On December 20, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) released proposed regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. The regulations would require AOGCC approval to conduct fracking activities. For comparison, California recently released a “discussion draft” of potential regulations which would impose certain requirements on fracking operations but would not require additional approval (see California Environmental Law Blog December 19 post).

The proposed AOGCC regulations would require an applicant to provide a complete copy of the detailed permit application to landowners, surface owners, and other well operators within a quarter mile of the wellbore trajectory. The application must include the names of principle fluids and the estimated volumes of fluids and inert substances that will be used, the maximum anticipated pressure, the designed height and length of the proposed fracture, and a plan for cleanup and fluid recovery. In addition to details about the proposed fracking operations, the permit application must provide information about water wells and freshwater aquifers in the area, and identify any well penetrations within a quarter mile of the fracturing interval. The proposed regulations require baseline and follow-up sampling of water wells for a broad suit of drinking water parameters and continuous pressure monitoring to assess potential leaks in the well being fracked. After fracking is complete, the regulations would require the operator to file a complete record of the fracking operations, including the actual volumes of materials used.

Initial comments from environmental groups are in support of Alaska’s proposed regulations. Alaska is ahead of other west coast oil producing states in terms of developing fracking regulations, as discussed here.

Written comments on the proposed regulations are due by 4:30 pm on February 4, 2013, or may be submitted at a February 5, 2013 hearing in Anchorage. For details on how to submit comments, click here.

Co-authored by Ramona L. Monroe, Michael N. Mills, and Robin B. Seifried.