Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is no stranger to controversy. It’s been under fire in recent years from the Obama Administration, and more state regulation lead states like Wyoming, North Dakota, and Colorado to actually sue the federal government a year ago.
For a basic rundown, there’s generally four “prongs” addressed in states’ fracking regulations.
- Pre-Drilling – Addresses the location, chemicals, and even materials of an operation. It’s more about establishing a feel for the water quality to ensure it remains unharmed.
- Groundwater Testing – Ongoing groundwater testing needs to happen throughout the drill.
- Liquid Wastes – Outlines how to deal with contaminated liquids from drilling, fracking, and flowback.
- Solid Wastes – Not typical, but addresses what to do with any solid wastes that may be generated from a particular job.
Given these four areas, here are the top three states with the most fracking regulation.
North Dakota lags behind the other two on the list because their pre-drilling and groundwater testing regulations aren’t specific to fracking. However, there are significant tests done on each of the four “prongs” mentioned above, which many states fail to do, giving North Dakota a spot in the top three.
Along with pre-drill water testing, Colorado goes beyond that and tests the water after drilling activities also. Some states don’t require this at all. Testing is required 6 to 12 months after the operation starts, and again after five years. Liquid flowback waste is disposed of by injection wells or by an E&P waste disposal facility.
California has the strictest regulations of any state in America. In addition to monitoring groundwater safety, potential frackers must notify neighbors of fracking sites and generate permits. After that, companies must have a contractor come test the water. The combined costs of all this are then paid for by the company. California is really the toughest because of how hard it is for companies to frack in the first place.