Various industry groups and organizations are speaking out against the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking legislation that pertains to hydraulic fracturing and well operations across the country. If enacted, the BLM legislation would add an extra layer of regulation to state laws that are already in place.
API & Chamber of Commerce Question Legislation
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute on 21st Century Energy have openly opposed the BLM’s proposed fracking legislation in recent months, and according to both organizations, BLM has not successfully proven that these new regulations are necessary to the industry, the economy, or the environment. API released a statement saying that BLM’s proposed legislation is vague and only addresses non-issues – topics that present no data-based risks or hazards. API also stated that the legislation conflicts with existing state regulations, fails to address local hydrology and geology, and could lead to worsened permitting and production delays.
In addition to the vagueness of the recently proposed fracking legislation, API believes that its conflicting guidelines would lead to increases in industry costs that could total between $30 million and $2.7 billion annually. “BLM has taken steps to improve its proposal from last year, and it wisely follows the lead of states that have already adopted FracFocus to improve transparency,” API said, “but there is still no clear benefit to imposing additional federal rules on top of state environmental stewardship.”
The Chamber’s energy institute released similar comments, stating that the BLM legislation “does reduce economic impact” but “fails to add environmental value commensurate with the cost.” BLM’s regulations would also require additive requirements to prevent water contamination, which most state laws have already addressed, and these new requirements could lead to significant increases in drilling costs, which the Chamber believes may cause decreases in domestic exploration efforts on federal land.
Independents Question Legislation
In addition to business organizations being vocal about the BLM’s proposed fracking legislation, two major independent oil and gas groups have come out against the proposal as well. The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) have both released public statements declaring the new regulations unnecessary and unfounded.
IPAA president Barry Russell believes that state laws should be enough. “Our federal system has vested the states with the authority to ensure that development of energy sources is safe and responsible,” Russell stated. “Together with state regulators and local environmental groups, the U.S. oil and gas industry has secured the great benefits of the shale revolution, while protecting the environment and strengthening local communities. The U.S. Department of the Interior should not be in the business of undermining this process.”
Kathleen Sgamma, a Vice President at WEA, took Russell’s sentiments further, stating that the Department of the Interior hasn’t proven the need for federal intervention yet and that the department doesn’t have the resources to fully enact the new regulations if passed. “The Interior Department cannot demonstrate that states are not adequately regulating or that federal regulation is more effective . . . DOI already struggles to meet its current obligations and has neither the resources nor the expertise to implement this very prescriptive, complex rule.”
Both IPAA and WEA have questioned the BLM’s proposed changes to the industry’s “usable water” definition, which the organizations say would create confusion and add costs with no foreseeable benefit. “The cost to the industry will be a colossal $345 million/year,” Russell predicted, and “this bureaucratic burden will discourage independent producers from exploring for oil and gas on federal lands.”
If you want to learn more about the BLM’s proposed fracking legislation or have questions regarding how it will affect your company’s oil and gas exploration efforts, contact MAH Energy Law today.