Advisory Panel on Fracking holds fifth meeting

October 2, 2014

By Larry Land

On September 24 the Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP) held its fifth meeting at the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren campus in King George County.

This RAP consists of representatives from industry, environmental organizations and local government. Its purpose is to assist the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) with the development of regulations to permit hydraulic fracking.

A chief issue discussed was whether or not the new regulations should include a provision requiring an applicant for a fracking permit to provide DMME with certification that the activity complies with local land use ordinances. Inclusion of this requirement is supported by local government representatives, but opposed by the industry. The RAP is likely to revisit the issue at its next meeting that has not yet been scheduled.

Conceptually, RAP members have reached agreement on a number of issues, one of which is public disclosure of chemicals that used in the fracking process.  RAP members also agree on the placement of groundwater wells in proximity to the drill pad where fracking activity takes place. However, the RAP has not yet been presented by DMME with regulatory language that would put these requirements into effect. DMME plans to present the RAP with a new set of draft regulations later in the process.

Over the next few months, there are at least two additional issues that the RAP is likely to address. The first of these is financial assurance, or the method by which an operator can demonstrate financial wherewithal to clean up any environmental damages caused by fracking. Another issue relates to monitoring for possible impacts from fracking on surface water.

Altogether, the process for developing new regulations on fracking could take another year so RAP can consider a number of controversial issues and review actual regulatory language.

Following the completion of the RAPs work, the newly proposed regulations will need to undergo extensive and detailed administrative and public review procedures required under the Administrative Process Act.

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