The Vinson & Elkins Shale and Fracking Tracker
Our Shale and Fracking Tracker focuses on legal, regulatory and other newsworthy developments that affect our clients involved in recovering oil and gas from the emerging shale plays using the critical techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Our Fracking Tracker is a product of our Shale and Fracking Practice Group, a cross-disciplinary and international team led by senior members of our Litigation, Environmental, Transactional, and Intellectual Property practice groups. Visit our V&E Fracking Practice Group page to learn more about our attorneys and our practice in this dynamic area.
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March 20, 2015 - BLM Releases Long-Awaited Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations
On March 20, 2015, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a much-anticipated final rule on hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. The rule includes well-bore integrity requirements, imposes standards for interim storage of recovered waste fluids, and requires disclosure of chemical usage. The chemical disclosures can be made via the industry-supported FracFocus web site. The rule will take effect in 90 days. See DOI’s press release here, and the final rule here. Check back for more detailed analysis of the new rule early next week.
March 19, 2015 - North Carolina Fracking Rules Go Into Effect, Lifting Moratorium
The North Carolina moratorium on hydraulic fracturing was lifted when the state’s Department of Energy and Natural Resources (“DENR”) rules relating to fracturing became effective on March 17, 2015. Under the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act, DENR’s Mining and Energy Commission (the Commission) was charged with reviewing North Carolina’s existing oil and gas regulations and adopting rules to protect the public health and safety, the environment, and other natural resources, while also promoting the efficient development of the State’s oil and gas resources. The Commission’s rules, which were initially proposed in July 2014, cover a variety of topics, including chemical disclosures, water storage, buffer zones between residential developments and drilling sites, and the permitting process. After reviewing over 200,000 public comments, the Commission finalized the rules in November 2014, and North Carolina’s Rules Review Commission (“RRC”) subsequently approved the rules. The RRC then forwarded the regulations to the statute legislature for consideration, starting the 61-day clock for the rules to become effective. The legislature took no action, so companies can now begin applying for oil and gas well permits, including those authorizing the use of well stimulation techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, in North Carolina. Read the full set of rules here (see 15A N.C.A.C. 05H.0101 et seq.).
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Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Disclosure Requirements
Vinson & Elkins’ Shale & Fracking Practice Group has updated its comprehensive Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Disclosure Requirements chart that summarizes state law for both current and proposed hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure requirements. The chart updates the hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure laws for Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. States that currently require disclosures related to hydraulic fracturing fluids include Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia and Wyoming. States with proposed disclosure requirements include California, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York. Additionally, Michigan is currently considering legislation to change its disclosure requirements. The chart also covers the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure requirements for drilling on federal lands.
The chart notes required disclosures, any trade secret or proprietary information protection provisions in the disclosure requirements, how the disclosure must occur, and when operators must make the required disclosures. Click here to view the chart. We will update the chart as new rules are proposed and adopted, so please check the website periodically for updates.