On December 20, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) released proposed regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. The regulations would require AOGCC approval to conduct fracking activities. This is in contrast to the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources Division (DOGGR) recently proposed “discussion draft” of potential fracking regulations (see December 19 post), which would impose certain requirements on fracking operations but would not require additional approval. See the Mineral Law Blog for a summary of the proposed Alaska regulations.

Both the Alaska proposed regulations and the DOGGR discussion draft require an evaluation of the ability of the well to withstand fracking operations and the integrity of the well throughout fracking operations. The significant differences between the two proposed rules are:

  • Alaska would require pre-approval before conducting fracking activities while DOGGR would not; 
  • Alaska would require a more substantial preliminary investigation into the other wells in the area and groundwater monitoring during the fracking operations;
  • Alaska would require direct notification to nearby land owners and well operators; and
  • Alaska would not provide trade secret protection.

At this stage, the DOGGR regulations are only posed in the form of a “discussion draft” and may be another year away from final. The Alaska regulations will likely go into effect first and may well impact future versions of DOGGR’s proposed regulations.

Initial comments from environmental groups are in support of Alaska’s proposed regulations, again in contrast to initial reactions to DOGGR’s draft discussion rule. The proposed Alaska regulations have been deemed “quite comprehensive” by Mike Paque, Executive Director of the Ground Water Protection Council. Plaque told the Platts news service that the Alaska regulations “go into significant detail on protecting local groundwater or drinking water.”

Co-authored by Ramona L. Monroe, Michael N. Mills, and Robin B. Seifried.