Disclosure requirements for fracking requested

The Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Feb. 28 on a bill that would authorize the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to require transporters of water that is used for oil or gas purposes to obtain a run ticket.

LB635, introduced by Cortland Sen. Norm Wallman, would require new and existing hydraulic fracturing wells to demonstrate suitable and safe mechanical configuration for any proposed stimulation treatment.

The bill also would require such operators to post on the commission’s website within 60 days the amount and source of water used in the stimulation and the amount of fracturing fluid recovered after the hydraulic fracturing stimulation—or fracking—is performed.

Groundwater is the state’s most valuable resource, Wallman said, so the amount and source of water used for the process of fracturing fluids should be disclosed.

Duane Hovorka, executive director of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, testified in support of the bill, saying that fracturing wells can negatively impact groundwater quality. Requiring the commission to report water sources used for the stimulation process would be effective in raising awareness about the dangers of fracking, he said.

Ken Winston, representing the Nebraska Sierra Club, also testified in support of the bill, saying it would provide transparency for groundwater consumption.

“We have a tremendously valuable water supply in the state and we need to handle that with great care and concern,” he said. “If something is going to go in the ground then it should be fully disclosed.”

Elizabeth Ferguson, president of the Eatmon Well Service Company in Kimball, testified in opposition to the bill, saying the commission is proactive and already reports the chemicals that are being used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Bill Sydow, director of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, also testified in opposition to the bill. The hydraulic fracturing chemical registry that website the commission currently uses does not have the capability to track water amounts or sources, he said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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