NYDEC Publishes Revised Proposed High-Volume Fracking Regulations

On Thursday, November 29, 2012, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) published revised proposed regulations relating to high-volume hydraulic fracturing (wells using more than 300,000 gallons of water as the base fluid).

The NYDEC developed these revisions and additions after receiving more than 66,000 public comments (most against hydraulic fracturing) on the original proposals that were released on September 28, 2011.

The 30-day public comment period on the revised proposed regulations begins on December 12, 2012, and allows a 90-day extension for completion of the New York Commissioner of Health’s review of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement.

The NYDEC advised that it would not take any final action or make any final decision regarding hydraulic fracturing until after the health review and the work from three outside experts—Colorado School of Public Health professor John Adgate, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services professor Lynn Goldman, and University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health professor Richard Jackson—is completed.

According to the NYDEC, “the proposed regulations are to apply to the use [of fracking] statewide,” with the initial targets being the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

The revised proposals include additional reporting requirements for drillers who want to re-fracture an existing well and allow for public and private water treatment plants to accept fracking waste water.

The proposed revised regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing include requirements for blow-out preventer use and testing plans, detailed mapping, enhanced disclosure of chemical additives, and well pad siting setbacks.

The chemical disclosure must identify each chemical constituent intentionally added to the base fluid and its proposed concentration. 

There are also new well construction, site preparation, operational, and maintenance requirements.

This article was prepared by Barclay R. Nicholson (bnicholson@fulbright.com or 713 651 3662) from Fulbright's Energy Practice.