Obtaining information about fracking

Question:  How do I get information about fracking on or near my property?

Answer:  Any person interested in learning about hydraulic fracturing operations on or near their property can find information at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”), their local government and from a website called Frac Focus.  Readily available information includes the well location, the identity of the well operator, the date of fracking operations, and chemicals used in the frack.

COGCC regulations require reporting of numerous pieces of information relating to any frack job, including the chemicals used in the frack.

Every oil or gas well in Colorado must be permitted by the COGCC.  Basic information about the well, including the identity of the operator, the well location and the depth of the well must be submitted to COGCC as part of the permitting and drilling process.  That information, as well as inspection and incident reporting information, can be obtained from the COGCC website at http://cogcc.state.co.us/.

In addition to permitting the well, operators must provide a notice of hydraulic fracturing to the COGCC at least 48 hours prior to commencing fracking operations.  The COGCC must then promptly provide electronic notice of the operation to the local government.  The official notice form includes the identity of the operator, the name and location of the well and the date of treatment.

Another important piece of information that must be reported, at least for fracturing treatments performed on or after April 1, 2012, is the chemicals used in the frack operation.  Within 60 days after completion of the treatment, but not more than 120 days after commencement of the treatment, the operator must post on the chemical disclosure registry relevant information about the operation, including the name of the operator, identifying information about the well, the depth of the well, the base fluid (most commonly water) and each chemical added to the fluid, with its maximum concentration in percent by mass.  However, the operator may withhold chemical identity and/or concentration information that is protected from public disclosure as a trade secret.  To do so, the operator must submit a trade secret protection claim form to the COGCC and must still disclose basic descriptive information about the chemical to the chemical registry.  The operator also must provide specific information about the chemical to a health professional who needs it to diagnose or treat an individual who was exposed to the chemical.

Disclosed chemical information is posted on Frac Focus (http://www.fracfocusdata.org/ ), which is a nation-wide registry of hydraulic fracturing chemical information.  On Frac Focus, searches can be completed based on geographic area, operator, time period, well name, ingredient and chemical abstract service number (CAS #).  The search interface includes easy-to-use drop-down menus to help narrow searches based on available information.  For each registered fracking job, the database contains a uniform and easy to read spreadsheet, in .pdf format, describing the job by date, location, well, depth and total volume and listing the chemicals in the frac fluid, including trade names and ingredients.  The Frac Focus website also contains general information about hydraulic fracturing and links to relevant state regulations.

The Colorado Bar Association welcomes your questions on subjects of general interest. The column is meant to be used as general information. Consult your own attorney for specifics. Send questions to CBA Attn: Heather Clark, 1900 Grant St., Suite 900, Denver, CO 80203 or e-mail hclark@cobar.org.

This story was posted on September 12, 2013.