The New Mexico legislative session has been a strange one, so far. It may be a result of 35 new members and new leadership in both Houses.
House Energy Chairman Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) has several bills not friendly to oil and gas. HB 136 is a hydraulic fracturing, chemical disclosure bill. Disclosure is fine and most of the opposition focuses around the fact that NMOCD already has a regulation in place that requires operators to disclose all fracture fluids that are not trade secrets. At the Energy committee hearing, New Mexico Energy Secretary John Bemis stated that 99.99% of the fracture fluids are being reported to NMOCD; therefore, there is only a minute amount of trade ingredients that are not being disclosed at the current time.
Another one of Chairman Egolf’s bills is HB 335, which addresses alleged damages from hydraulic fracturing. This bill requires geologic and hydrologic assessment of ground and surface waters within a 2,000-meter radius of a targeted well head and to a depth of 1,000 feet below the targeted well’s depth prior to commencing a hydraulic fracturing treatment. HB 335 specifies what must be included in the baseline test, establishes when testing will occur before, through, and after completion; addresses presumptions concerning statistically significant increases in certain specified components in the water; establishes procedures for a person claiming injuries, including the state, to recover such damages; imposes joint and severable liability on any person defined as “owner”; makes all tests public record and available on the Oil and Gas Division’s website; and requires the division to establish rules for bonding requirements for wells on which frac’ing is planned.
A person who claims injuries as a result of the frac’ing of a well has three years from the date that the last water test sample results are published on the division’s website to institute a court action. The action may be brought in the county where the injury is alleged to occur, where the claimant or owner resides, or in Santa Fe County. A court shall award a prevailing plaintiff attorney fees and the costs to mitigate and remediate damages to surface or ground waters, and other resources and other actual damages. It may impose punitive damages. The payment of a bond to the division is not a defense.
And how about one more…
HB 189 enacts a new section within the Department of Environment Act, to provide criminal and civil penalties for false statements made to the Department of Environment.
PBPA is on the ground working on these and other legislative items and we are pushing for reasonable policies.
The Texas session is well under way as well. Speaker Straus has named his committees. The Permian Basin is well represented in both the House and Senate. A full list of committee assignments is available on our website: www.pbpa.info
Representative Tom Craddick, as the longest continuously serving member of the Texas House, has again been recognized as the Dean of the Texas House of Representatives. Serving in the House since the 61st Legislature, Dean Craddick has served in almost a quarter of the meetings of the Texas House since statehood in 1845.
At its open meeting on January 29, the Railroad Commission withdrew some previously proposed amendments to §§3.13, 3.99, and 3.100 (Rule 13), and approved a revised set of proposed amendments for those same three rules. The proposed amendments address the transfer from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the RRC of the Groundwater Advisory Unit, and clarify requirements for drilling, casing, cementing, and fracture stimulation, and other subjects.
PBPA appreciates the good work the Commission staff has put into analyzing industry comments and the Rule is much more palatable now. The commission agreed to publish the new draft of SWR 13. Commissioners Porter and Craddick voted to extend the comment period to 45 days (Commissioner Smitherman tried to persuade them to go with 30 but they declined).
The 45-day comment period will end at noon on Monday, April 1, 2013.
For more information on this and other Railroad Commission rulemakings, or to access the online comment form for any proposed rulemakings, please see the Proposed Rules table at this link: