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An Act Relating To Oil And Gas; Amending And Enacting Sections Of The Oil And Gas Act To Establish Testing To Protect Water Resources; Providing Remedies For Damages Resulting From Hydraulic Fracturing; Declaring An Emergency

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HB 335 on
Emergency Clause:
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Fiscal Impact Report

This measure amends the Oil and Gas Act to add a new section of law that requires the owner of a proposed well to conduct a geologic and hydrologic assessment prior to engaging in hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) for the purpose of extracting oil and gas (or any other product or substance). It provides that “any statistically significant increase in the components” included in the water test will be “presumed to have been caused by the hydraulic fracturing operation conducted, allowed or ordered.” And, the bill allows a plaintiff (including the State) who prevails in a lawsuit for damages caused by hydraulic fracturing to recover (1) attorney fees, (2) the costs to mitigate and remediate damages to surface water, ground water and other resources and other actual damages, and (3) punitive damages.


In addition, the bill provides:

  • The assessments must establish the location of all surface and ground waters within a 2,000 meter radius of the well head to a depth of 1,000 feet below the well’s target depth.
  • And, the assessment must evaluate the structural geology and any potential risks for ground or surface water contamination that may result from the hydraulic fracturing (or other drilling operations).
  • The owner must also conduct baseline water testing from the surface to 1,000 feet below the well’s target depth of any surface and ground water resources within a 2,000 meter radius of the bore hole of the proposed well and must quantify a number of items enumerated in the bill (such as pH, dissolved solids and gases, and other specific items).
  • The assessment results must be included in the well permit application and made available for public inspection prior to drilling.
  • The bill also requires follow up water testing at several other, specified times in the process: before the drilling, during the drilling, one week after the conclusion of the hydraulic fracturing operation and six months post-well completion.
  • All test results must be made available to the public on a web site to be provided by the Oil Conservation Division (OCD).
  • The presumption regarding significant increases to the water test components may be rebutted by the owner in a court of law by clear and convincing evidence.
  • A person claiming damage from hydraulic fracturing must bring suit within three years of the date that the last water test sample results are published. Any bond paid by the owner to the OCD does not serve as a defense to claims of damage.
  • The OCD must adopt rules establishing bonding requirements.


The bill defines “hydraulic fracturing” as the process of “injecting fluid into an oil- or natural-gas-bearing rock formation adjacent to the borehole of an oil or natural gas well for the purpose of either creating new fractures or expanding existing fractures to stimulate the flow into the well of oil or natural gas that would otherwise remain in the rock formation.”

Potential benefits of this bill might include:

  • additional accountability for hydraulic fracturing operations due to the assessments and testing required;
  • more information being made publicly-available; and,
  • an avenue of recourse for damages that could include hefty dollar amounts potentially serving as a deterrent for bad actors.


Outcome: HB 335 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Date of Summary:  1/30/13; Updated 5/21/13