Currently, states lead the day-to-day oversight of natural gas development because they have the on-the-ground personnel and expertise to safeguard local air, land and water. State-level enforcement is considered critical because drilling practices are customized to the unique geological characteristics of different parts of the country. ANGA member companies support appropriate state oversight and recognize the role it plays in helping ensure safe and responsible development.
The geology of natural gas formations can vary greatly from region to region - even wellsite to wellsite in some areas. For example, Texas' Eagle Ford Shale and the surrounding environment is vastly different than the geology in Texas' Barnett Shale to the north, just as it is different from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. Each shale, and even different parts of the same shale, possesses unique geological characteristics that require specialized approaches to developing the natural gas found there. Well design, location, spacing, operation, water management and disposal, waste management and disposal, wildlife impacts and surface disturbance are all variables that differ and are accounted for by state-led regulation.
In addition to their own regulations, state regulatory agencies enforce existing federal laws, which include:
There are several organizations that work to ensure proper regulations are in place at the state level:
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) is a multi-state government agency that works to ensure that natural gas, among other energy sources, is developed while protecting health, safety and the environment.
The State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization whose purpose is to assist states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with developing natural gas. The organization shares innovative techniques and environmental protection strategies, and identifies opportunities for state's to improve their regulations. Its Board includes members from the environmental, state commission and industry communities, including representatives from EPA, Earthworks, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Groundwater Protection Council.