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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May 14, 2015 - New York Releases Final SGEIS on Fracking
Following the December 2014 recommendation of the New York Department of Health (“DOH”) that New York not move forward with high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“HVHF”), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) published its Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program on May 13, 2015. The final SGEIS includes analysis of additional data regarding both the economic impacts of HVHF and its potential environmental and health-related impacts. The final SGEIS generally considered significantly expanding upon many of the mitigation measures previously proposed in earlier drafts, including a prohibition against HVHF on private lands, an expansion of sensitive areas where HVHF would be prohibited, additional site-specific environmental assessments, and increased setback and buffer requirements. However, the SGEIS concludes that implementation of these measures would result in a significant portion of the Marcellus Shale being unavailable for HVHF operations and impose additional costs on operators, thereby impacting the potential economic benefits associated with HVHF in New York.
The DEC Commissioner will issue a legally binding “findings statement,” which is expected to call for an outright ban on HVHF, after 10 days. Read the full final SGEIS here.
May 14, 2015 - NIOSH Posts Case Study on Fatalities of Workers Exposed to Hydrocarbons while Checking Tanks
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) recently published a case study and blog post on the deaths of nine workers who died while gauging, sampling, or transferring fluid in flowback and production tanks at oil and gas sites. The nine cases examined by NIOSH occurred between 2010 and 2014. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide was ruled out as a cause of death in all nine cases, but NIOSH determined that hydrocarbon exposure caused or contributed to at least three of the deaths. The cause of the remaining fatalities remains unknown. Although NIOSH appears to single out the fracking industry, the study does not show that fracking caused the workers’ deaths; hydrocarbon and chemical exposure remains a risk to all oil and gas operations, and the NIOSH materials released to date do not suggest that fracking operations are uniquely at risk. Nonetheless, NIOSH still makes recommendations that employers engaged in fracking should consider remote methods to sample tanks, provide workers with self-contained breathing apparatuses, provide hazard training, and ensure workers do not work alone when there is a high risk of exposure to hydrocarbons. Additional results, conclusions, and recommendations based on the results of NIOSH’s case study are forthcoming.
V&E Fracking Resources
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.