Today, Friday, March 20, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), an agency within the Department of the Interior, published regulations for hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands. The Final Rule becomes effective in 90 days and will impact about 2,800-3,800 wells each year. In 2013, 90% of the 2,800 new wells on Federal and Indian lands were stimulated using hydraulic fracturing techniques, according to the BLM. (Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands, Final Rule, at p. 14.) The regulations do not apply to fracking activity on private and state-owned land, where most of the fracking in the United States occurs.
Requirements under the Final Rule
The overarching purpose of the Final Rule is to provide a “baseline for environmental protection.” (Id. at p. 12.) Principally, a permit is required under existing oil and gas regulations. Before beginning operations, an operator must submit an Application for a Permit to Drill (“APD”) to the BLM and wait for approval. As the new regulations supplement the existing regulations, and do not replace them, this permit requirement will continue under the new regulations.Continue Reading Obama Administration Releases Federal Fracking Regulations