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April 12, 2014

Fracking review online

NORMAN — The Oklahoma Hydraulic Fracturing State Review is available on the Corporation Commission’s website, occeweb.com. Completed in 2011 by a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization, State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations Inc., the review looks at standards, reporting, and water and waste management among other issues involved in hydraulic fracturing.

A seven-person team appointed by STRONGER included three team members and four official observers. The team members were: Leslie Savage, Texas Railroad Commission; Wilma Subra, Subra Co., New Iberia, Louisiana; and Jim Collins, Independent Petroleum Association of America. The official observers were: Hal Fitch, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Angie Burckhalter, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association; Bud Scott, Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club; and Michael Overbay, USEPA Region VI. 

At that time there were reportedly “about 2,660 active operators, 137,800 active wells (43,600 gas, 83,700 oil and 10,500 injection/disposal), and thousands of miles of gathering and transmission pipelines...” and “approximately 320,000 plugged and abandoned wells in Oklahoma,” according to the report.

While the Corporation Commission presides over oil and gas drilling, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board permits surface water use and issues drilling permits for groundwater. Ironically, hydraulic fracturing is considered a “beneficial use” by OWRB.

In the words of the review: “Water used for oil and gas E&P activities is considered a beneficial use, and, as such, a temporary use permit is usually issued for oil and gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing. It should be noted that the largest volume of water uses are for agriculture and public water supply. About 2 percent is used for oil and gas activities.”

The review also concludes that despite 60 years of hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma with more than 100,000 wells hydraulically fractured, the state has “not identified any instances where hydraulic fracturing has harmed groundwater.”

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