Reporting of fracking well water contents requested

The Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Feb. 17 on a bill that would enhance disclosure and public notice regulations on injection wells.

LB1082, sponsored by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, would require commercial injection well operators to sample and analyze injected wastewater at least once per year and provide the resulting data to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Nebraska’s oil and gas production. The bill also would require the certification and monitoring of vehicles used to transport the wastewater and the periodic evaluation of an operator’s ability to pay the costs of shutting down a well.

The commission would be required to provide public notice of an injection well permit application to the county, city or village where the well would be located and could require public meetings to review them.

LB1082 also would remove language from the commission’s purpose statement encouraging it to promote development of the state’s oil and gas resources.

Jane Kleeb, speaking on behalf of Bold Nebraska, testified in support of the bill, saying that it would strengthen disclosure requirements on the contents of wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking. She said the available data on its contents is unclear and incomplete.

“We don’t think that Nebraska should be accepting out-of-state fracking waste to begin with,” Kleeb said, “but we think that this bill is a step in the right direction to at least have some level of disclosure and some accountability for the wells that potentially could be in our state.”

Dana Wreath, vice president of Wichita-based oil and gas company Berexco, testified against the bill, saying it is unnecessary because its provisions already are covered by existing regulations.

He said the state’s geology is not suited for fracking and the market for commercial disposal wells in western Nebraska has virtually disappeared. There have been no cases of fracking wastewater contaminating the drinking water supply in the state’s history of oil and gas production, Wreath added.

“We don’t have an out-of-control injection production oil and gas operation in this state,” he said. “The surest proof is that there are no smoking guns.”

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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