Saturday, January 18, 2014

W.Va. Lawmakers Begin Consideration Of Stricter Storage Tank Regulations

The West Virginia Legislature has begun consideration of a legislative proposal in response to last week’s chemical spill emergency in Charleston.  The new legislation, the Water Resources Protection and Management Act (SB 373), would amend and establish new storage tank regulations.  The bill, as drafted, contains several provisions that should be noted by horizontal producers:
1.      Applies to ALL aboveground storage tanks that hold ANY fluid except water.  This technically includes your gas grill’s propane tank and would apply to the vehicle LNG and Propane filling stations if the storage tanks are maintained aboveground – i.e. there is no size restriction.
2.      No specific provision regarding oil and gas operators but statute would most definitely apply to tanks installed on well pads to collect and separate the constituents of wet gas as well as your old-school condensate tanks.
3.      Although the connotation of aboveground storage tank envisages a fixed tank at one location, there is no separation between a tank fixed in one location or a mobile tank.  This could have enormous implications for hydraulic fracturing tankers delivering fracturing fluids to the well site.
4.      No specific amount of civil penalty is mentioned and leaves administrative penalty amounts up to WVDEP.  Fees are left up to WVDEP as well.
5.      In addition to leaving administrative penalty amounts and fees up to WVDEP, most of the statute intends to pass along the substance of the regulatory program to WVDEP to develop via rulemaking.

News article:
Bills introduced to regulate storage tanks

It has been reported that the Governor plans to introduce his own bill on this matter.

LGCR and its government relations affiliate, LGCR Government Solutions, are monitoring this bill and will provide additional updates.  Please call Joe Jenkins, LGCR’s environmental regulatory attorney, or me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Legislative Interim Committee Recommends Water Usage Bill, Including Fracking Provision

The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources this week adopted a proposed interim recommendation for legislative action (click to read proposed bill) in the 2014 regular legislative session that would:  modify the definition of a "large quantity user" to become a user of 300,000 gallons of water in a 30-day period; would remove the current 10% variance provision for reporting of water usage by requiring an actual monthly report; would require any agency that contributes funding to the statewide water gauge system to report to USGS and the Legislature if that agency can no longer contribute funds; would require the depth of groundwater reached to be reported by producers to DEP in addition to the current requirement for reporting longitude and latitudes for well locations and; would require annual water usage reports to be made to DEP. In addition, an amendment to the proposed interim bill was advanced by Delegate Bill Hamilton that would require any usage of water found during the course of Marcellus production in the fracking of the well where such water was discovered to also be reported.

The commission is co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader John Unger and Delegate Mike Manypenny.

The 2014 session of the West Virginia Legislature began today.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Legislative Committee Reviews Landfill Waste Disposal Of Drilling Material

The W.Va. Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary met January 5, 2014 to discuss the depositing of drill cutting material and waste into landfills as a result of drilling activities across West Virginia.

West Virginia University (“WVU”), which had conducted a sampling of several vertical drilling sites, shared findings of a study it had done. WVU’s study provided that certain components were elevated, but not alarming.  It was suggested that additional information be collected and studied including the best way to determine how to obtain samples and how to characterize the waste.  Additionally, it was suggested that a sampling of horizontal drilling sites take place.

There was discussion about the general concern of radioactive elements within the rock being brought to the surface during drilling. While the element of radioactivity appears to be low, some thought additional studies would be beneficial.

The W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection informed the interim committee that it has plans to require a very similar approach to that which is already in place in Pennsylvania.  This approach will help with properly detecting radiation and will also improve the safety of workers at landfill sites.


Marcellus drill cuttings study falls short
Little usable data gathered on drill cuttings, waste
The Dominion Post, Jan. 6, 2014