On October 5, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) formally proposed a new set of regulations governing oil and gas drilling (hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”) in Virginia. These proposed regulations were the subject of a 60-day comment period that ended on December 4.
On December 2, VACo submitted a letter to DMME commenting upon the proposed rule. VACo’s letter is available at this link.
Comments submitted by VACo were consistent with the Association’s policy on hydraulic fracking, which appears below:
Advances in technology for the extraction of natural gas known as “hydraulic fracturing” has the potential to tap vast reserves in what are known as the Marcellus shale and Taylorsville Basin deposits. Concerns about how the process of hydraulic fracturing could impact both public and private groundwater supplies have been raised both regionally and nationally. VACo supports a state regulatory program that addresses these concerns while protecting the authority of local governments to regulate and/or ban this type of mining activity through their land use ordinances.
Specifically, VACo supports a regulatory program with the following components:
A requirement for permit applicants to provide certification to the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy that the activity and associated activities are consistent with applicable local ordinances;
Authority for local governments to require documentation that all state requirements are met as a condition for local approval;
Requirements for operators of hydraulic fracturing operations to demonstrate adequate financial assurance to ensure the availability of adequate resources to correct any damages that could result from drilling operations;
Through a portion of permit fee revenues, establish a state fund to defray local costs that would be associated with the training of first responders as preparation for emergencies stemming from fracturing activities; and
To assure continuity in protection of health and natural resources, that provisions in the Memorandum of Agreement between DMME and DEQ of August 12, 2014 be strengthened and perpetually institutionalized by statute or regulation.
Additional information on DMME’s proposed rule is available on the following web links: http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewstage.cfm?stageid=7185. For the text of DMME’s proposed rule: http://register.dls.virginia.gov/vol32/iss03/v32i03.pdf.
VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE