Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) is in the process of revising its regulations and forms to implement the requirements of the new oil and gas law. PADEP is expected to release the new well completion forms and the Confidential Chemical Registration form to implement the trade secret provisions soon. PADEP released changes to the proposed rules on August 12, which do not affect the proposed disclosure provisions. The Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board met on September 2 to discuss the new changes. The rules need to be approved by standing committees in the General Assembly and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission before they become final. PADEP officials also stated on August 12 that the agency will likely propose separate public health requirements between October and December. In addition, PADEP announced in mid-June that the state will no longer use FracFocus for HF chemical disclosure requirements and is instead developing its own disclosure database for use by June 2016. PADEP plans to post new policies associated with the new online database for public comment.
As currently proposed, the regulations would require disclosure to the Department of chemicals intentionally added to the stimulation fluid by name and CAS number as well as maximum concentration in the fluid. The regulations would require the submission of trade secret information to the Department, but service companies and vendors may separately submit this information.
Timing – PADEP plans to submit the final version of the rules to the Environmental Quality Board by the end of 2015. The rules must then go to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission by March 2016. PADEP anticipates that the rules will be final and effective in mid-2016.
Ohio: Despite a February ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that local governments are preempted from imposing permitting requirements on oil and gas activities, several local governments in the state continue to seek to regulate these activities at the local level. Athens, Fulton and Medina Counties all planned to have ballot measures to ban HF in November, but the secretary of state’s office sent letters to the three counties on August 13 ruling that the ballot measures are illegal in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Citizens of the three counties filed a lawsuit before the Ohio Supreme Court on August 19 challenging the secretary of state’s rulings. Meanwhile, an oil and gas bill is expected to be introduced in the state legislature sometime this fall.
Texas: Following the adoption of an HF ban in Denton on November 4, 2014, on May 5 the Texas legislature passed HB 40, which amends the Texas Local Government Code to prohibit the adoption or enforcement of local HF bans. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on May 18. HF operations were resumed in Denton on June 1. The Denton City Council repealed the ordinance banning HF on June 15.
Virginia: The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (“DMME”) will soon propose amendments to the state’s existing HF rules. The current draft proposal would require pre-frac reporting to DMME as well as post-frac reporting to FracFocus. It would require disclosure of all ingredients to DMME, including trade secret ingredients, and provides that DMME would keep confidential the identities of any ingredients it determines are trade secrets, although the draft does not specify how DMME would go about making that determination. The Governor’s Office is currently reviewing the draft proposal, after which the proposed rules will be published in the Virginia Register for public comment.