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Survey reveals trends in US fracking wastewater regulation

June 25, 2014
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The role of hydraulic fracturing for the growth of the U.S. energy sector is undeniable but states seem to have widely divergent views when it comes to the technology in general and to fracking wastewater regulation in particular. Ranging from mostly supportive for the industry, like Texas, to completely restrictive, like Vermont, states have their own reasons for the position they take but this makes federal rules regarding fracking wastewater very hard to manage.

The huge variations in approaches have been examined by Oil and Gas Journal in an analysis showing that states obviously prioritize different factors regarding wastewater. A survey on state regulation regarding fracking wastewater carried out by attorneys and published on the journal's website reveals three main trends in state approaches: reactive, restrictive and facilitative. Those three positions are not always clear-cut and may sometimes fuse but they still reflect different views on the matter.

Reactive states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, take action and revise regulation in response to public concerns. They also tend to permit fracking operations, unlike restrictive states, which are more likely to ban wastewater operations or fracking activities in general. Examples of restrictive states include Vermont and, to a lesser degree, Arkansas. By contrast, facilitative states focus on incentivizing or cost-reduction for companies that engage in certain wastewater management techniques.

These differences in regulatory approaches have important implications for investors, Oil and Gas Journal says. Apart from letting stakeholders and investors know how fracking wastewater management is regulated, the differing approaches can also demonstrate how regulation drives behavior and decisions on fracking. Last, but not least, understanding a state's regulatory perspective could help stakeholders identify opportunities to help develop more cost-effective and balanced regulatory regimes, the analysis concludes.

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