Feds Seek to Ramp Up Fracking Regulations

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Stoel Rives attorney Mike Mills discussed in Inside Counsel efforts by federal agencies to expand their regulation of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." Fracking releases oil and gas captured in rock formations and makes them easier collect by injecting fluids into the ground at high pressures. The technique is reportedly used in approximately 90 percent of active U.S. natural gas wells. On April 14, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order directing federal agencies to coordinate their ongoing efforts to impose additional fracking regulations.

Mills discussed a proposed rule recently issued by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that would require companies to disclose the chemicals they use in fracturing operations on public and Indian lands. He noted the BLM rule will likely provide citizen and environmental groups with additional means to challenge permits for fracking operations on federal land.

Mills also pointed to the May 2012 issue of a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance outlining a permitting process and requirements for hydraulic fracturing activities involving six types of chemicals the EPA deems "diesel fuels." While Mills expected the guidance would not impact current permitting requirements, he predicted the publicity it generates would spur increasing pressure to regulate in states that lack any current hydraulic fracturing regulation.

Read the full Inside Counsel article

"Frack Attack" was published by Inside Counsel Magazine, July 2012.

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Michael N. Mills
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