Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 37 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Texas. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.
Colorado – A judge has overturned the city of LaFayette’s ban on new oil and gas wells, which was passed by ballot measure in the 2013 election (see our previous coverage here). Judge D.D. Mallard, of the Boulder County District Court, ruled that the state’s interest in regulating natural resource development through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act preempts the city’s interest in banning extraction activities. She opined that state primacy in oil and gas drilling regulation was established at a time when public policy favored mineral resource development, and asserted that a change in that policy should be made by the state legislature rather than the court. Judge Mallard is also responsible for striking down the Longmont ban in July, a ruling in which she asserted a nearly identical rationale.
Pennsylvania – A bill proposed by Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Allegheny/Beaver) would make it easier for landowners to recover damages from companies performing seismic testing as a precursor to hydraulic fracturing operations. H.R. 2254 would create a rebuttable presumption that liability for all damage within 1,000 feet of a seismic test was caused by the geophysical contractor or testing company. A number of western Pennsylvania municipalities have raised concerns about, and even litigated over, the allegedly harmful impacts of seismic testing on public infrastructure and private property. The bill, which was introduced in May, has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Texas – As of October 1st, Baker-Hughes, Inc., the world’s third-largest oilfield services provider, started disclosing all of the chemicals in uses in its hydraulic fracturing operations. The Houston-based company has not disclosed such chemicals in the past, citing competitive reasons, but company spokeswoman Melanie Kania says that the company has been trying to change its policy “for some time.” The policy change required negotiations with customers, engineers, and suppliers to ensure that all of the relevant chemicals could be disclosed and to ensure that systems were updated to facilitate disclosure.
With assistance from Andrew McNamee