May 21, 2015
May 20, 2015
May 19, 2015
Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Concerns May Slow Natural Gas Development
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracing," is the injection of a high-pressure fluid mix of water, sand and a proprietary chemical mix into formations deep beneath the surface to release natural gas. This method of resource extraction has been used in the United States for over 60 years as an enhanced recovery technique, but has been deployed with increasing frequency as a well completion process to facilitate economic production from the recently discovered, massive natural gas reserves in unconventional coalbed methane and shale plays. The increased use of fracing in this context has turned political and public attention to perceived concerns about environmental risks associated with the practice.
Three themes warrant continued attention from a legal and policy standpoint. The first is federal disclosure legislation – i.e., whether everyone involved at the federal level can craft a compromise that balances the political/public will to know what materials are being used in specific fracing efforts with the desire of the producing and drilling companies to preserve the value associated with their proprietary formulas. The second is the state-level efforts to more stringently govern water supply and water disposal issues associated with hydraulic fracturing. The third is obstacles imposed by local ordinances and zoning authorities – i.e., whether our nation's energy policy warrants some sort of preemptive law by the federal government that reduces the burden of patchwork, municipality-by-municipality, requirements that deter (and inflate the cost of) extracting this important resource.