Alaska hydraulic fracturing proposal draws praise for protecting groundwater, drinking water

Jan. 2, 2013
New rules proposed by state regulators in Alaska for hydraulic fracturing look to protect and maintain the health of the local environment.

JUNEAU, ALASKA, Jan. 2, 2013 -- New rules proposed by state regulators in Alaska for hydraulic fracturing are "quite comprehensive," the director of a water advocacy group said.

Mike Paque, executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council, told the Platts news service his organization was optimistic about new rules for hydraulic fracturing in the state.

"I would say that they are quite comprehensive and go into significant detail on protecting local groundwater or drinking water," he said.

Energy companies operating in Alaska under the proposed rules would have to notify land owners of exploration plans, conduct before-and-after water sampling and disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission proposed the regulations last December. The commission said it didn't expect the proposed regulations to require additional financing. Approval is expected during the first quarter of the year following a public comment period.

The U.S. Geological Survey last year estimated that the North Slope of Alaska could hold as much as 80 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, more than the Marcellus formation in the eastern United States.

Exploration of shale formations is controversial because of perceived groundwater threats from the chemicals used in development.


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