by Max Brantley
Thanks to a tip from Sen. Jason Rapert, I got an early jump on the independent review by Stronger Inc. of gas exploration regulation in Arkansas in the age of fracking.
The study was done by group including industry and environmental representatives. The recommendations were indicative of the makeup. Some good things were said about Arkansas regulation, though they included some cosmetic things like a good website for a state agency. The negatives were more systemic — lack of regulatory muscle at the primary agencies in charge of regulation — Environmental Quality and the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission.
The pro-fracking contingent has naturally heralded the good side of the report. Now comes a different view from those more concerned about the environment. Here's the statement from the United for Responsible Gas Extraction (URGE). It's a group of Arkansas landowners and others from the Fayetteville Shale region who support natural grass drilling "through the use of industry best management practices and strong agency oversight and enforcement."
It faults the Stronger report's failure to call for improvement in best management practices. It said, too, that the report mostly ignored ADEQ responsibilities for clean air and water. It lists a number of specific concerns not adequately addressed, including bonding rules, notice to landowners about fracking, disposal wells and adequate surveys of seismic faults.