ND objects to proposed federal 'fracking' rules

Jun 28, 2012

Two federal agencies have proposed new regulations on “fracking.” The EPA and the Bureau of Land Management have issued proposed rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing – a technique widely used in the Bakken shale formation to recover oil. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, North Dakota’s Industrial Commission is opposing the rules.

"This has always been regulated at the state level," said North Dakota mineral resource director Lynn Helms. "North Dakota has primacy to regulate underground injection control."

Helms says the EPA’s proposed “guidance” on fracking deals with the use of diesel fuel in the fracking fluid. Helms says while traditional diesel fuel is NOT used in the Bakken, the EPA has broadened the definition of “diesel.”

"They brought in two chemical abstract numbers that don't even mention diesel fuel," said Helms. "One is petroleum distillates, which are very common in North Dakota 'frack fluid.' The other is kerosene. We believe that goes beyond the jurisdiction given then (the EPA) in the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005."

Helms said in April, the state adopted new rules on fracking. And he says there have been no reported environmental problem since the rules were first proposed in mid-2011.

"The oil and gas industry voluntarily implemented our rules when they were initially published," said Helms. "Knock on wood, we have not had a single failure. We've got great rules, and there is no environmental danger or threat from the way we do hydraulic fracturing here."

The state Industrial Commission has sent letters to both agencies, formally objecting to the proposed  federal rules.