Regulations on Hydraulic Fracturing Need Reform
Background on the Development of the Existing Regulations
In the 2015 state legislative session, a “Ban Fracking” bill was introduced, a collaborative effort by GBRW and others. The bill did not pass that time, but in meeting with legislators and creating some buzz around the topic, the stage is set for another attempt.
When the US Bureau of Land Management began leasing parcels to corporations to drill wells intended for hydraulic fracturing, the permitting and regulations at the state level were not even in place. GBRW submitted comments on multiple occasions during the comment period on the fracking regulations.
In late 2013 and 2014, GBRW extensively researched existing state laws, primarily in Colorado and New York.
As a result, we were able to make substantive comments and recommendations regarding hydraulic fracturing several times to the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources and the Division of Environmental Protection. They included structural recommendations for oversight within agencies, public process and review recommendations, monitoring and public health considerations, bonding requirements and other topics.
Given the uncertainties surrounding hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts on specific environments in Nevada and the incompleteness of the proposed regulations, GBRW requested a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until that time when all concerns are addressed and regulations are in place that will provide for protection of public health and the environment.
The Division of Minerals did strengthen aspects of the proposed regulations based on public comment. However, key aspects that provide better protection for aquifers was not added, and there is still insufficient public notification when an oil and gas operation proposes to use hydraulic fracturing.
The Division did concede that regulations will need to be modified and was open to amendments in the future.