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Wyoming federal judge issues preliminary injunction against BLM’s hydraulic fracturing regulations

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and several states, including Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe rejoiced when Wyoming federal judge Scott W. Skavdahl issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new hydraulic fracturing regulations.

“We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our request to first hear the merits of our case before this final federal rule goes into effect,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell stated following the September 30 order.

The complaint was filed by IPAA and Western Energy Alliance on March 20 to challenge BLM’s final ruling … Continue Reading

Opposition to federal fracking rules grows

Earlier this year, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final version of rules governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land. As discussed in a previous post, these rules will not only impose heightened requirements on drilling operations but also increase the reporting duties for drilling operators. Shortly after the BLM released its proposal, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance (WEA) sued the BLM in Wyoming to challenge the proposed rules. The IPAA and WEA argued that the BLM’s rules are unnecessary because states adequately regulate hydraulic fracturing. The IPAA and … Continue Reading

Wyoming to strengthen chemical disclosure requirements for fracking operations

The Wyoming Public Records Act (WPRA) requires that oil and gas companies disclose information about the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing operations. Specifically, companies must disclose the type of chemical used, the concentration of each chemical, the chemical compound name, and the CAS number—the unique number assigned to that chemical for purposes of public scientific literature. Companies may forgo disclosing this information, however, by requesting an exemption from the state’s disclosure rules on the basis that the information constitutes a trade secret, privileged information, or confidential information.

On January 23rd, the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) agreed … Continue Reading

Methane emissions from oil and gas operations targeted by state regulations

Ohio has joined Colorado and Wyoming in issuing new regulations aimed at limiting the emission of methane gas from oil and natural gas operations to address climate change and health concerns. In development for more than a year, the revised Ohio rules are effective immediately and apply to high volume hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas well site production operations. The rules modify the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s general permitting process and include the following:

  • Operators must now test and monitor for any fugitive emissions taking place at a well site on a quarterly basis.
  • A leak detection and repair program
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Wyoming Supreme Court reverses and remands suit on trade secret protection for hydraulic fracturing chemicals

Four environmental groups sued the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) under Wyoming’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), asserting that the WOGCC unlawfully withheld the identification of hydraulic fracturing chemicals used by various oil and gas operators under the trade secret exception to the state’s disclosure rules.

On March 21, 2013, the district court upheld the WOGCC’s decision, ruling that the Supervisor “acted reasonably” in establishing a policy for evaluating trade secret requests and that his decisions to grant trade secret protection were not arbitrary or capricious and were in accordance with the law.

On March 12, 2014, the Wyoming … Continue Reading

Wyoming requires groundwater testing before and after drilling

On November 12, 2013, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) approved regulations to be effective on March 1, 2014, that will require oil and gas operators to conduct testing of water sources before and after drilling a well. With an Application for Permit to Drill or Deepen a Well, operators must identify all water sources within one-half mile of the surface location of the proposed oil or gas well and submit a plan to sample, analyze, and monitor at least four of these groundwater sources.

The plan must include “initial baseline water sampling and testing followed by a … Continue Reading

Wyoming members of Congress seek federal fracking rules exemption

In a letter dated August 19, 2013, three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation (its two U.S. Senators and one Representative, all Republicans) asked the Department of Interior to exempt Wyoming and other states having hydraulic fracturing regulations from the pending Bureau of Land Management’s rule applicable to hydraulic fracturing on public lands.

The lawmakers argue that the proposed BLM rule duplicates “in many aspects, state regulations that already address well-bore integrity and flowback water and require the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing constituents used on Federal public lands. We believe that BLM’s proposed rule will significantly delay oil and gas permitting … Continue Reading

EPA withdraws from continued study of water in Pavillion, Wyoming

The Hydraulic Fracking Blog - Norton Rose Fulbright

On June 20, 2013, the EPA announced that, while standing behind its research that found elevated levels of glycols, alcohols and methane in water samples from deep monitoring wells in Pavillion, Wyoming, it was handing over its investigation into the alleged groundwater contamination to Wyoming state officials, including the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The EPA stated that it would not seek peer review or finalize its draft report and would not use the report’s conclusions in any rulemaking because it could not directly connect the chemicals found to hydraulic fracturing activities, indicating that exploration of migration pathways proved … Continue Reading

Wyoming Court finds fracking formula protected by Trade Secret Law

In the case of Powder River Basin Resource Council, et al. v. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., in the Seventh Judicial District Court, County of Natrona, State of Wyoming, Civil Action No. 94650-C, four environmental plaintiffs challenged the trade secret exemption of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure rules. The plaintiffs asserted that the Commission had unlawfully withheld the identification of hydraulic fracturing chemicals used by various oil and gas producers, including Baker Hughes, BJ Services Company, CESI Chemical, Champion Technologies, Core Laboratories, Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., NALCO Company, … Continue Reading

New EPA Report Again Ties Wyo. Water Pollution To Fracking

On October 10, 2012, as a follow-up to its December 2011 draft report concerning allegations of groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, the EPA released the methodology and results for additional water samples collected from two monitoring wells by the U.S. Geological Society, in cooperation with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, in April 2012, a report that was highly criticized by industry.

The EPA announced that the results of the additional testing “are generally consistent with the monitoring data” in the draft report which indicates that the groundwater in the area contains chemicals (glycols, alcohols, and methane) linked to hydraulic … Continue Reading

Federal vs. State Regulation


On September 10, 2012, members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, requesting that the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed regulations governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land be made stronger.

The group wants the proposed regulations strengthened:

  1. to require the public disclosure of the pre- and post-fracturing chemicals and additives;
  2. to re-assess the use of FracFocus as the system for the public disclosure of chemicals and to consider a government-run system that would be subject to open records laws and that would allow the information to be published in
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Survey of Flaring Regs for Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming

Survey of Flaring Regs for Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and WyomingNatural gas production is booming in the United States.

Operators, aided by advances in hydraulic fracturing, have ramped up production, whether by reworking old oil wells or exploiting new formations altogether.
However, just because an operator has the ability to produce natural gas does not necessarily mean that it can sell the gas; compressors, pipelines, treatment plants, and other infrastructure must be prepared in order to get the gas to market.

In some cases, this lack of infrastructure has led operators to vent or flare gas at the wellhead.

In order to get a better understanding of where the law … Continue Reading

President Obama Discusses the Benefits of Shale Gas in his State of the Union Address

On Tuesday President Obama in his State of the Union address discussed the merits of shale gas.  The President made clear, “[a]nd nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy.”

Obama went on to acknowledge that, “[w]e have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years.”  He also made comments about the jobs being created by shale gas stating that,  “Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.” Read the full State of the Union address transcript.

Yet, despite his comments on the promise … Continue Reading

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