HRWA and others have provided comments on the proposed oil and gas regulations to TDEC as of August 3, 2012. While TDEC's proposed rules are a good start, they do not go far enough.
- See HRWA's comments provided to TDEC on August 3, 2012 here.
- See final comments submitted by the Southern Environmental Law Center on August 3, 2012 here.
- See comments and specific suggested revisions to the proposed rules provided by the Tennessee Clean Water Network, the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, the League of Women’s Voters- Tennessee, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FRACKING IN TENNESSEE
Oil and gas exploration activities have already begun in the Harpeth River watershed, and those activities are a threat to human health, rivers and streams, and groundwater. Companies are targeting the Chattanooga Shale formation that contains natural gas, and that formation typically lies a mere 100 feet or less below the ground surface - a depth that lies in direct proximity to aquifers and surface water streams in our area. Oil and gas companies are already attempting to lock-in landowners to sign leases for wells for as little as $10 an acre.
Although the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has proposed updates to current regulations to include standards for hydraulic fracturing, those proposed rules fall short of recognizing unique Tennessee hazards or even meeting oil and gas industry standards. Those proposed rules are open for public comment until August 3, 2012. The proposed rules can be downloaded at http://www.tn.gov/environment/wpc/ppo/og_ph071012.pdf.
In short, the proposed regulations:
- Allow forced pooling of your property if your neighbors sign leases for the same oil and / or gas reserves.
- Allow oil companies to hydraulically fracture wells with up to 200,000 gallons of water and chemicals without notifying the public beforehand and without baseline monitoring of aquifers.
- Allow wells to be drilled every 660 feet.
- Require only a 200-foot separation between an active drinking water well and an oil or gas well.
- Allow oil companies to fracture with oil-based liquids (e.g. diesel fuel).
- Require only 100-foot separation between the nearest stream and a well.
- Include no restrictions for siting wells near sinkholes or in karst terrain.
- Include well casing standards that are less restrictive than what the oil and gas industry recommends for hydraulically fractured wells.
- Allow earthen pits for storing liquid wastes with less stringent design and location standards than what is typical for even household garbage landfills.
If you, your friends, or your family have been contacted by oil and gas companies and have been asked to sign leases for oil and gas exploration and production, contact the Tennessee Clean Water Network and the Harpeth River Watershed Association.
Get more details about issues in Tennessee by going to Tennessee Clean Water Network website or the Tennessee League of Conservation Voters website. In addition, you can learn more about what people in other states have experienced when natural gas drilling activities came to their area by attending a July 10, 2012 showing of GasLand at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, sponsored by Conscious Nashville. To buy tickets go to http://www.consciousnashville.com/page/community-movie-night.