GWPC: US state regulations adequately protect water resources

Current US state oil and gas regulations adequately protect water resources, the Ground Water Protection Council said in a new report on May 28.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, May 31 -- Current US state oil and gas regulations adequately protect water resources, the Ground Water Protection Council said in a new report on May 28.

The assertion by one of the nation's leading groundwater protection organizations came as congressional discussions intensified on giving the US Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, an essential part of producing natural gas from shale formations.

The study focused on eight regulatory aspects: permitting, well construction, hydraulic fracturing, temporary abandonment, well plugging, tanks, pits, and waste handling and spills. The resulting report was not intended as an evaluation of state programs, but rather, an evaluation of state programs, the GWPC said.

Each state covered in the study was invited to review the report's findings and provide any updated information, it added. Thirteen states provided responses, which were incorporated in the report, the council said.

GWPC also produced a regulations reference document containing excerpts from each state's oil and gas regulations related to the programmatic areas evaluated in the study, it said.

Oil from Canada's oil sands is also blended, without segregation, with other feedstocks at many US refineries, making it impossible to determine the content of fuels that are purchased, it added. The report and addendums are available online at www.gwpc.org.

Oil and gas organizations responded favorably. "The study confirms what the industry has been saying: Regulation of oil and gas field activities, including hydraulic fracturing, is best accomplished at the state level where regional and local conditions are best understood, and where state regulators are on hand to conduct inspections and oversee specific applications like well construction and testing and plugging as well as hydraulic fracturing," the American Petroleum Institute said in a statement.

"Hydraulic fracturing is a tried-and-true, more than 50-year-old technology, increasingly essential for producing the nation's natural gas," it added.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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