Last Friday, the Department of Interior released its final rule updating the regulations that govern hydraulic fracturing on federal public and American Indian lands. It covers standards for wells and well construction, disposal of wastewater, and disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. These regulations have been in the works since 2012, and Interior received more than 1.5 million comments on its draft rules.
The new rule will require validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones. Operators also must take measures to lower the risk of cross-well contamination with fracking chemicals and fluids, a goal that will be achieved through the mandatory submission of more detailed information on the geology, depth, and location of preexisting wells. Construction also must be guided by a specifically designed and implemented casing and cementing program that follows best practices and meets performance standards in order to protect and isolate usable water. During well construction, the site must monitor cementing operations and must take remedial action if there is an indication of inadequate cementing. If remedial action is taken, the operator must prove it was successful. Before beginning the hydraulic fracturing operation, the operator must perform a successful mechanical integrity test. The operator must also monitor annulus pressure throughout the fracturing operation. Continue Reading