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Sunday, May 25, 2014

An Inch is Good as a Mile...Or the disappearing presumptive liability and baseline well water testing

 A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, during a meeting of the Compulsory Pooling Study Group Mining and Energy Commission chairman Jim Womack said this:

"Considering the increasing lengths of the lateral - when we said 5000 feet a minute ago, because 5000 feet was about the limit that the drilling could occur. As the horizontal drilling extends beyond 5000 feet, its now up to about 2 miles in some places, then obviously these rules will be extended out, so they can adjust over time, for the length of the horizontal drilling."

The 5000 foot baseline testing also included a presumptive liability provision for the same distance. Ummmmm not so much. It didn't take long for the MEC to start talking about
 "overreaching", "excessive", and Commissioner "Industry Won't Come Here" Holbrook saying, well, "Industry won't come here." 

This spring, MEC  chair Jim Womack went before a legislative committee explaining that despite whatever good intentions the 2012 legislation had about baseline and subsequent testing, it was too onerous on industry, and recommended the 5000 foot baseline testing requirement be reduced to 2500 feet. Lo and behold, S786 was introduced, and whizzed through the senate. Among other things S786 reduces  the baseline testing and presumptive liability to a half mile. I suppose the Senators  figured that they would be conservative and err on the side of caution by adding 140 feet to it, but there still seems to be some confusion on their part. 

Just like almost every other proposed rule that was meaningful, the MEC took one step forward and two steps back. What they haven't weakened, they've ignored. Like air toxics, and forced pooling , and getting serious about waste management. It makes one say -

Get ready to rumble!