Natural gas fracking rules considered by U.S. agency for public land


The U.S. is weighing whether to impose new rules on hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas on public lands.

Companies such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp. of The Woodlands and Treasure Resources Inc. of Windsor, Colorado, may be required to disclose chemicals used in the drilling and adopt well-integrity standards as part of the permit process, Robert Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, said in an interview today in Bloomberg’s Washington office.

“We have the authority to move forward with our own rule- making to require such a disclosure and other best-management practices that we deem are feasible and appropriate,” Abbey said. Such regulations are being “seriously entertained,” he said.

In fracturing, or fracking, companies inject water, sand and chemicals under high pressure thousands of feet underground to break up shale-rock formations and release the gas trapped there. The technique is used for more than 90 percent of wells drilled on public lands, Abbey said.

Environmentalists and local officials have said the technique can pollute water resources.

Natural-gas production on federal lands rose 6.5 percent to 2.97 trillion cubic feet, or 14 percent of U.S. production, last year, according to the agency’s website.

Abbey said the bureau had no evidence that fracking has “adversely affected groundwater.”

Disclosure, Best Practices

To ease public fears, companies should voluntarily disclose the chemicals they use and adopt “best practices” to prevent leaks from wells that could pollute water supplies that are thousands of feet above the gas reserves, he said.

“The integrity of well casing is very, very important,” Abbey said.

The agency, part of the Interior Department, will wait for the final results of a task force set up by the Energy Department to review the risks of hydraulic fracturing before deciding whether to impose rules, he said.

Last week, the task force released a draft report that said natural-gas companies risk causing serious environmental damage unless they adhere to certain standards.

2 Responses

  1. Jerry Lobdill says:

    From a chemical engineer in the Barnett Shale in Texas–

    The fear and panic in your comment are obvious. But you are not thinking clearly. Our economy is in tatters not because of insufficient natural gas, but because Wall Street predators have raped the nation. Natural gas is selling at such a low price today because there is a glut of natural gas. The price is so low that drilling is uneconomical.

    You need to read the Schlumberger textbook, “Well Cementing”, Second Edition. You don’t know what you are talking about.

  2. Economic Status says:

    Dear Mr. President Obama, Gov. Cuomo
    and all people who should protect your voters and the nation!

    To allow immediately the extraction of natural gas at all places the DEC has already declared outside watersheds is the only way to save the future.
    The economy hits rock bottom, the cure is in your hands but you gave the power to a group of environmental extremists. They want a perfect regulation but that is impossible. Not one kind of industry is without risks, not now and not in future. They are talking about environmental impacts caused by natural gas drilling. But they cannot exhibit any evidence, not one. They are just playing for time to find a basement for the own unfounded pronouncements and theses. They are talking about methane in aqueducts. Nobody ask first the person who has drilled the water well on the farm whether it has hit any methane shale. Just for example.
    A lot of studies based on canards. That is a modern version of the inquisition.
    They will wait until the economic disaster is irreversible.
    The U.S. economy is down.
    Smaller companies will become insolvent, not just gas drillers.
    A lot more people will be unemployed. Maybe some small town will die.
    Infrastructures will be destroyed and the U.S. economy won’t be better.
    Alone the current official plan to balance the debt won’t be sufficient, on the contrary.
    Every child knows that you cannot expect to get juice from a dry pressed fruit.
    Certainly you can try other methods, from the other side or with more pressure, but it won’t work.
    You have to find another fruit to get juice.
    Your fruit is natural gas.
    So just take back the responsibility from the DEC and take action, before it is too late.
    Every day without natural gas drilling will be a month to repair the economic aftermath.