The Bureau of Land Management is seeking comments through July 10th on a proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing. This process was invented by Halliburton and received exemption in 2004 from the Clean Air, Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts (known as the Halliburton Loophole) from then Vice President Dick Cheney who was the CEO of Halliburton.
The proposed rule has several questionable areas:
First, the proposed rule would require disclosure of chemicals used after the fracturing operation is completed. The question is, would this disclosure be retroactive? Since the disclosure happens after the “frac,” could this rule be used to obtain information on other previously fractured wells? Especially any wells that have been in service since the Halliburton Loophole was put in place.
Second, why is the rule relying on guidelines from the American Petroleum Institute? Shouldn’t the American Petroleum Institute be relying on BLM guidelines for well construction and well integrity?
Third, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) requires that the public lands be managed in a manner the will protect the quality of their resources, including ecological, environmental and water resources. How does this proposed rule live up to that mandate? This rule allows hydraulic fracturing to continue, and there is ample research & proof that this extreme extraction method puts our water at risk and does irreparable damage to our public lands.
Fourth, the proposed rule would remove the distinction between routine and non-routine fracturing jobs. Although it proposes that all “well stimulation” would require prior approval, since the chemicals are only required to be disclosed after the fracturing, how does this improve public safety and how does it comply with FLPMA?
Fifth, the proposed rule deletes the definition of fresh water and replaces with term “usable” water, which includes fresh water as well as “water this is of a lower quality than fresh water.” Again, how does this comply with FLPMA? This lowers the standard, and would appear to be at odds with the FLPMA.
I contacted the BLM and put these and other questions to Director Steven Wells, he found the comments interesting and worth further study. The BLM is seeking relevant comments and those based on substantive information and/or a factual basis. Submit your comment here.