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Fracking bill makes progress
March 25, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Legislation authorizing the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission to sample and inspect water injected into decommissioned wells from fracking operations has advanced to Select File, before the final reading.

The bill, LB 1082, was introduced by State Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala and designated the priority bill by Sen. John Stinner of Gering.

This bill has been a long journey for me, Stinner said. Its a culmination of a lot of public and committee meetings and testimony weve received. This legislation changes the mission of the Oil and Gas Commission more toward being a regulator in preserving health, public safety and the environment.

The bill revises the policy and purpose of the commission, eliminating language that it promoted the industry, and replacing it with wording that supports development of the industry in a responsible manner while promoting health, safety and the environment.

The bill requires notice of an application be given to a local governing body regarding any proposed commercial underground injection well. The notice, submitted to the Natural Resources District, would include information on the proposed location of the well. The bill also would require Class II injection well operators to sample and analyze the injected fluids at least once a year, and then provide that data to the commission.

When fracking water is used by commercial interests, affected parties such as municipalities, the NRD, and counties need to be included in overseeing the process. Local governments retain a voice in any hearings over water injection applications.

Stinner said LB 1082 passed unanimously out of General File and will now advance to Select File. There is a fiscal note attached, but because the Oil and Gas Commission generates its own funding, the cost to the taxpayers is minimal.

Im not sure when the bill will be debated on Select File, Stinner said. Its the job of the Speaker of the Legislature to schedule bills. Still, we should able to get it through the final two readings fairly quickly.
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