The U.S. Department of Interior released its long-awaited federal rules on fracking March 20, which included revamped security and disclosure measures on public land.
The rules mark the first time the federal government has implemented a nationwide policy regarding the regulation of fracking. The guidelines have been years in the making and have coincided with the major overhaul of the U.S.'s energy production capabilities.
The DOI noted more than 90 percent of oil and gas wells in the U.S. are hydraulically frac'd and the rules will pertain to more than 100,000 wells in total. Further, the fracking industry will have a new regulatory framework to navigate before having the go-ahead to begin drilling in certain areas.
"The regulations will only apply to federally leased lands."
Drilling companies must disclose the types of chemicals used in the fracking process within 30 days of finishing operations. Also, federal regulators must inspect the wells themselves and rule on the security and integrity of the cement casings lining the wells.
More guidance for ensuring the safety of the environments surrounding wells and the storage of wastewater are included in the rules as well.
"As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and renewable energy production, it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place," said Sally Jewell, secretary of the Interior.
The New York Times reported the regulations will only apply to federally leased lands, not private property. It's not clear how much of an impact the new rules will have on the entire fracking industry as the majority of fracking is conducted on private land. However, other states may follow suit and enforce similar measures to more closely align with federal guidelines, thus creating a more efficient process for producing oil and gas in the U.S. without the ongoing legal holdups.
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