Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 39 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in Maryland, Oregon, and Virginia. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.
Maryland – In one of his final actions before leaving office on January 21, Governor Martin O’Malley (D) proposed a set of regulations and best management practices for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the state. The proposed regulations were published in the January 9 edition of the Maryland Register, and would implement the recommendations made by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources following their review of the practice. Gov. O’Malley ordered the review in 2011, and suspended approval of any hydraulic fracturing operations pending completion of the review. The proposed regulations would not apply to each well individually; rather, a driller would be required to submit a comprehensive development plan to address “landscape-level issues and cumulative effects” of the company’s planned activities for at least five years, as well as a $30,000 filing fee. A company would only be able to apply for a drilling permit once the comprehensive plan was approved. A drilling permit would cost an additional $30,000 for a new well, or $20,000 for refracturing or reworking a well. An environmental assessment, including at least two years of baseline air, water, and groundwater monitoring near planned well pads, would be required with the permit application, effectively extending the current moratorium for two years. The proposed rules also regulate setback requirements, sediment control, water withdrawal, and chemicals and waste management.
Oregon – A group of fourteen Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Cheryl LaFleur, urging the Commission to complete its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal as soon as possible. The agency’s draft EIS, issued November 7, found that the project would have minimal environmental impacts. The proposed $6.8 billion terminal, which would be constructed by Veresen Inc. along Coos Bay, would be the first LNG export facility on the West Coast. The Department of Energy issued a conditional approval for an export license to non-free trade agreement countries on March 24, 2014, but final approval is awaiting FERC’s completion of this environmental review. The terminal would be given an initial license to export 800 million cubic feet per day of natural gas for twenty years, beginning in 2019. The signatories to the letter are: Sen. Barrasso (WY), Sen. Gardner (CO), Sen. Enzi (WY), Sen. Harch (UT), Sen. Lee (UT), Rep. Lummis (WY), Rep. Tipton (CO), Rep. Lamborn (CO), Rep. Coffman (CO), Rep. Bishop (UT), Rep. Stewart (UT), Rep. Chaffetz (UT), Rep. Buck (CO), and Rep. Love (UT).
Virginia – A draft regulation being considered would require companies using hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas to publically disclose all of the ingredients in the hydraulic fracturing fluid matrix, including those claimed as trade secrets. The draft rule is being prepared by the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME). The rule would require fluid ingredients to be disclosed via the FracFocus website, and through disclosure to DMME. Pre-drilling testing of groundwater within a quarter-mile of drilling platforms would also be required by the rule, along with one post-drilling groundwater test and additional testing if elevated chemical levels are detected. Drilling companies would be required to pressure-test well casings, and certify to DMME that their drilling plans conform with local ordinances.