Saturday, September 10, 2011
Hydraulic Fracking in Kansas - 2
KIOGA strongly opposes EPA regulating the practice, so touted KCC regulation as very sufficient. KCC said they regulate many phases of the practice, but had to admit that they have never generated any statutes or regs that specifically apply to, or even mention the HF process. All their regulations which they claim adequately protect Kansas are covered by their existing general oil & gas regulations. These would include surface pipe; production casing; and well cementing regs; and their intent to drill and pipe permitting processes and reporting requirements. Excuse me, but just how effectively do these old original regulations deal with the new issues of HF when the process never even appears in the statutes?
The joint committee did get the closest look yet at Kansas activity. As I wrote on February 2, 2011 (here), HF was first done in 1947 in Grant County, Kansas. Moreover, the KCC reported that probably 80% of all oil & gas and coalbed methane wells in the state have been fracked. The good news was that Kansas has just over 19,000 injection wells readily available to take all the flowback fluids, so this waste stream in Kansas is 100% injected. This of course was to ease water treatment concerns that are a huge issue in other parts of the US. They regionalized some crude figures on HF water use and injection pressures. From lows of 200 bbl of water per well and 300-1000 psi injection pressures in SE Kansas, to 2700-5000 bbl of water per well and 2500-3600 psi injection pressures in NW Kansas.
I have to admit, they were pretty convincing, but then again, they weren't challenged very hard with probing questions. They made a big deal out of the FracFocus.com web-registry for fracking chemicals used, but never mentioned that Kansas operators rarely use this voluntary site. Remember, in February, 2011 I queried for every Kansas well in the entire registry and got two returns. They made huge pitches for the KCC regulation of HF, yet just an hour earlier they reported on several KCC rulings that made it more unlikely that the industry (or anyone else) would ever be held responsible for older abandoned oil & gas wells. They touted again that not a single case of groundwater contamination in the US has yet been verified from HF. They criticized all the anti-fracking materials, from the New York Times series to the Gasland documentary. And they mentioned three times that the industry is all about transparency, yet never mentioned how they have fought chemical disclosure. Quite frankly, I sensed them being just as radical and entrenched in defense of the practice as they accused the environmental groups of being in opposition to it.
All this leads me to believe the real answer is somewhere in the middle, which is essentially what I said back in February. I do wish the committee would have asked more questions, though. They were far too polite. I would think that Kansas should consider a set of regulations specifically for HF that include at least: 1) full disclosure of HF chemicals and injection pressures; 2) full disclosure of flowback fluid injections; 3) full disclosure of engineering work-ups on the fracking plans used; and 4) a remediation fund should any problems occur. Now, if your activities are 100% safe and will never cause a problem, why would you oppose these basic requirements?