Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Wyoming Gov: BLM Should Back Off Fracking Rules

Proposed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rules on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) violate the spirit of an earlier order by President Obama that called for the "least burdensome" regulations to be applied to allow for predictability and certainty, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead told U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a letter last Thursday.

Given the fact that Wyoming already has fracking rules and the BLM has raised no concerns about them, Mead said he was troubled to learn that the federal agency nevertheless has drafted similar rules. Mead urged Salazar not to have BLM duplicate what Wyoming already has or impose duplicate regulations on the state.

The BLM draft rules could be released by the end of this month, according to Lee Fuller, vice president for government relations at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, but he doesn't think they will emerge until the end of May. Fuller said the BLM rules are being held up by the agency's attempt to establish its own chemical disclosure website or use the states' Frac Focus Chemical Disclosure Registry, and also because Native American tribal lands are involved.

"One of the questions is whether this process has been undertaken to the satisfaction of the tribes," Fuller told NGI's Shale Daily.

Mead attempted to make the case to Salazar that BLM's rulemaking effort on fracking appears to be in conflict with the president's Executive Order 13563, "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review." The governor said BLM 's attempt to regulate "what is already state-regulated does not meet the letter or spirit of the president's order."

"The proposed rules will create unpredictability and increase uncertainty not only for operators developing the resources but also for states like Wyoming that are proactively and responsibly regulating hydraulic fracturing right now," Mead said. "And given the added delay and other burdens associated with the proposed rules, a cost-benefit accounting [as called for in the executive order] appears missing or flawed."

In 2010, Wyoming developed the first state rules regarding fracking, Mead said. Wyoming's rules address well-bore integrity and flowback water, along with requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals, applying to federal, private and state lands. "These rules were developed based on sound science and a thorough public process," Mead said.

Mead stressed that the state's rules are intended to provide public health, safety and environmental safeguards while allowing for economic growth.

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