Obama Administration Makes Two Regulatory Moves On Oil, Gas Operations

June 2012, Vol. 67 No. 6

"We are very pleased that EPA was convinced by our arguments that there are very few VOC emissions from the transmission sector and thus they chose not to regulate that segment in this rule," says Lisa S. Beal, vice president, environment and construction policy, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). "However, we are still perplexed by some of the language in the rule that suggests this might just be temporary. We do not believe that further analysis will result in a different conclusion. Simply put, EPA would be chasing something that just isn't there."

The EPA also softened proposed changes to the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards which apply to emissions of air toxics. Richard N. Wheatley, manager, media relations/emergency response communications, El Paso Corporation, says the NSPS and MACT changes in the final rule "are a significant improvement."

The Department of Interior proposed rule on fracking was issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and will apply, once finalized, to state, federal and Indian lands. The rule would provide disclosure to the public of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on public land and Indian land, strengthen regulations related to well-bore integrity and address issues related to flowback water.

The proposed rule would require that disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process be provided to the BLM after the fracturing operation is completed. This information is intended to be posted on a public web site, possibly FracFocus.org.

In a teleconference with reporters on May 9, Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, didn't mince words in criticizing the BLM proposed rule. He said the states are fully able to handle regulation of hydraulic fracturing. "It is simply not necessary to add a new federal regulatory regime for fracking on top of an already highly competent state regime," he explained.