May 25, 2011 11-0525
For More Information Brad Wurfel, 517-373-7917, firstname.lastname@example.org
Regulations increase environmental protection and public transparency
Michigan DEQ officials today announced a series of new regulations for the oil and gas industry that will increase public disclosure and better protect public health and the state's natural resources.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,' is a process used to extract natural gas by pressurizing underground wells with water and sand and chemicals to break-up formations and maximize well production. The process came under national scrutiny in recent months as other states discovered environmental damage from the ways that certain operators disposed of used ‘fracking fluid' and constructed their wells.
Fracking began in the 1940s. Michigan oil and gas operators have used the system on nearly 12,000 wells around the state since the 1960s without any instance of environmental harm from the fracturing process. Michigan's environmental safety record is attributable in large part to the state's tight standards for well construction and water disposal.
Today, the department announced key new requirements to address public concern and increase protection. The requirements, issued as New Permitting Instructions by the state Supervisor of Wells, include:
- Changes to water usage oversight: operators will be required to document where they plan to get the fresh water used in the process using the DEQ's water withdrawal tool, to ensure that neither surface water nor any neighboring water wells are impacted. They also will be required to report the total volume of fracturing water recovered during operation.
- Reporting: DEQ will require operators to disclose all Material Safety Data Sheets and will post that information on the department's Web site for public review. The sheets list characteristics of the chemical additives and their potential health and environmental effects.
- Fracturing records: Operators are required to submit service company fracturing records and associated charts showing fracturing volumes, rates, and pressures.
In recent Congressional hearings, Michigan has been lauded as a regulatory model for responsible production of gas and oil reserves. Today's announcement is part of the state's effort to further ensure environmental protection and public transparency.
A copy of the instruction documents is available on the DEQ Web site, www.michigan.gov/deq.