Independents see problems in BLM’s latest proposed frac rule

US independent oil and gas producers identified three main problems as two of their trade associations submitted comments on the US Bureau of Land Management’s proposed revised hydraulic fracturing regulations. Officials from the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance also reiterated that federal fracing rules aren’t even necessary.

“Our federal system has vested the states with the authority to ensure that development of energy sources is safe and responsible,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell maintained.

“Together with state regulators and local environmental groups, the US oil and gas industry has secured the great benefits of the shale revolution, while protecting the environment and strengthening local communities,” he said, adding, “The US Department of the Interior should not be in the business of undermining this progress.”

Meanwhile, Kathleen Sgamma, vice-president of government and public affairs at the Denver-based WEA. “The Interior Department cannot demonstrate that states are not adequately regulating or that federal regulation is more effective.”

She said, “DOI already struggles to meet its current obligations, and has neither the resources nor the expertise to implement this very prescriptive, complex rule. The rule will further disadvantage the West, as development, jobs, and economic activity will continue to migrate to areas without federal lands.”

In their comments, IPAA and WEA said BLM’s proposals—which the Interior agency revised earlier this year—have a usable water definition that would create confusion and increase costs without any benefit; contain flawed state/tribal or basin variance language; and rely on an inadequate economic analysis to create an arbitrary and capricious rule.

“This rule undercuts states’ authority to regulate energy production, a realm in which they have been successful for decades,” Russell said. “The cost to the industry will be a colossal $345 million/year. This bureaucratic burden will discourage independent producers from exploring for oil and gas on federal lands.”

BLM will accept comments on its proposed fracing regulations through Aug. 23.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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