Bill tightening fracking regulations clears House panel

02/24/2015 12:28 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill, which sponsors say is designed to modernize and strengthen Kentucky’s oil and gas regulations, was unanimously passed by the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment on Tuesday.

House Bill 386, sponsored by Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Morehead, is what Adkins called a “consensus” bill.

In July 2014, Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters appointed a working group of state officials and representatives from the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association (KOGA), the Kentucky Resources Council, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Environmental Quality Commission and the Kentucky Farm Bureau. The working group was chaired by the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources and included officials from the Division of Oil and Gas, the Kentucky Division of Water and the Secretary’s Office of General Counsel.

The legislation contains five key components:

- Requires “Best Management Practices” for oil and gas well site reclamation.

-Establishes an “Abandoned Storage Tank Program” to begin the process of reclaiming abandoned tank battery facilities.

-Provides regulatory certainty to the oil and gas industry when investing in deep horizontal wells.

-Requires FracFocus disclosure for high-volume horizontal well fracturing.

-Establishes a water-quality testing protocol and reclamation bonding for deep horizontal wells.

“The aspects of this bill really looks at how we can protect the environment, first of all, and then it looks at how we can build in certainty for the industry with those regulations and new statutes as we move forward,” Adkins said. “And to be able to bring all of those different people under the tent to reach a consensus, really, is not an easy thing to do.”

Berea resident Vicki Spurlock told committee members that she has concerns what hydraulic fracturing will do to her rural community. Spurlock said fracking could put individuals at risk of being exposed to toxic chemicals.

“Seventy five percent of chemicals affect skin, eyes and other sensory organs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems,” Spurlock said. “Forty to fifty percent affect the brain, nervous system, immune, cardiovascular and kidney system, and 25 percent cause cancer and mutation.”

Spurlock asked the committee to put-off Adkins’ bill and put a hold on the fracking industry in the commonwealth.

Adkins agrees with Spurlock with some of her concerns but says the bill is a much needed first step since currently, there are no regulations.

“I think she has some legitimate concerns and I think that’s the reason everybody says that this is the first step,” Adkins said. “This is something for us to look at as we move forward in the future or trying to build in other components of this legislation in the future.”

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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