The US Interior Department on Friday released final standards for hydraulic fracturing on public and American Indian lands.
The department says the new rules will improve safety and help protect groundwater by updating requirements for well-bore integrity, wastewater disposal and public disclosure of chemicals.
There are more than 100,000 oil and gas wells on federally managed lands. Of wells currently being drilled, over 90 percent use fracking.
The rule applies only to development on public and tribal lands and includes a process so that states and tribes may request variances from provisions for which they have an equal or more protective regulation in place. The department says this will avoid duplication while enabling the development of more protective standards by state and tribal governments.
Key components of the rule, which will take effect in 90 days include:
- Provisions for ensuring the protection of groundwater supplies by requiring a validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones through which the wellbore passes;
- Increased transparency by requiring companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to the Bureau of Land Management through the website FracFocus, within 30 days of completing fracturing operations;
- Higher standards for interim storage of recovered waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to mitigate risks to air, water and wildlife;
- Measures to lower the risk of cross-well contamination with chemicals and fluids used in the fracturing operation, by requiring companies to submit more detailed information on the geology, depth, and location of preexisting wells to afford the BLM an opportunity to better evaluate and manage unique site characteristics.
Industry groups have warned the rules requiring companies to disclose the composition of chemicals used in fracking will lead to lost jobs and increased product risk.