Yesterday, the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) released the Hearing Officers’ Report written in response to public comments on MEC draft fracking rules. (Scroll down to download or read the report.)
A few of the proposed changes strengthen the rule set, especially those requiring Surface Use Agreements for any proposed drilling unit application. Unfortunately, some of the most inadequate rules, such as setbacks for high occupancy buildings, remain unchanged.
Key issues Impacting Landowners in the Report:
Setbacks: Setback distances for occupied dwellings and high occupancy dwellings, such as schools and hospitals, remain unchanged. The report does propose an additional setback of 1500 ft. from each oil or gas wellhead, tank, tank battery, pit, or production facility to the edge of any surface water impoundment that serves as a municipal drinking water supply or to the edge of any river having a drainage area greater than 140 square miles and upstream of a municipal drinking water supply point.
Variances: The report proposes that variances, if granted, provide equal or greater protection of public health, safety, and the environment.
Drilling Units: The report proposes that surface use agreements be required before drilling unit applications can be approved.
Forced Pooling: The MEC is not proposing any rules on forced pooling in anticipation of further legislative action by the North Carolina General Assembly.
The MEC has not finalized any rule changes in the hearing report. The committee will meet again November 7 in Raleigh, NC to discuss potential changes to the draft rules.
RAFI will continue to follow the MEC’s work and the rapidly changing nature of rule revisions. We will publish a full analysis of the rule changes in the coming days.
Final MEC Hearing Officers’ Report
The full MEC Hearing Officers’ report may be read at the following site: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=5fd0a535-2305-479c-89cf-14f480b3143d&groupId=8198095.
We have also embedded the report below.