In Arkansas, home to the Fayetteville Shale, state Rep. Kathy Webb (D-Little Rock) has introduced a quintet of bills targeting the natural gas industry for greater scrutiny of drilling operations. The content of the proposed legislation shows that the lawmaker has hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on her mind.
Webb is also co-sponsor with Rep. Bobby Pierce (D-Sheridan) on two bills aimed at changing gas industry drilling practices. Their HB 1399 would limit noise in gas fields to "no more than 50 decibels at 250 feet." Their HB 1400 would create a "Landowners' Bill of Rights," requiring more disclosure of industry activities on private property.
A state legislative report noted that none of the proposals so far includes a call for penalties associated with violations or concerns that may be raised. All of the bills are now assigned to the state House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee.
Natural gas interests in Arkansas also are facing the prospect of higher severance taxes if a recently launched ballot initiative is successful and voters going to the polls think the industry should pay more in taxes (see Shale Daily, Feb. 11).
Drilling in the Fayetteville Shale has fallen off a bit over the last year. According to NGI's Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count (see shaledaily.com), almost 40 rigs were actively operating in the play during February 2010. During February 2011, fewer than 30 rigs were on the job.