Fracking in Nevada

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Fracking in Nevada
Policypedia energy logo.PNG
Regulatory agency Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources
Fossil fuels present Limited oil and natural gas reserves[1]
Year fracking began 2014
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Fracking in Nevada depends on available energy resources, the location of these resources, applicable laws and regulations, politics, and the power of environmental and industry groups. Decisions by policymakers and citizens, including state and local governments and ballot initiatives, affect if and how fracking occurs in a state.

On August 28, 2014, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources approved new rules that will regulate hydraulic fracturing in that state. The approval of these rules signals the completion of Senate Bill 390, passed in June 2013, which created new regulations for the oil and natural gas extraction practice.[2]

These regulations require the fracking chemicals used during the fracking process to be limited to those listed on the Division of Minerals' website (a division of the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources). Other chemicals can only be used if a waiver had previously been granted by the Division of Minerals. These specially approved chemicals must then be listed on within 60 days of use. Baseline and subsequent water monitoring samples are also required for all wells within one mile of a well that has been fracked. Baseline samples must be taken within one year of a well being fracked, and subsequent samples must be taken first within six and 12 months after fracking, and again between 60 and 72 months later. The law also created new requirements for flowback water, and well cementing and casing.[3]

Fracking background

See also: Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of injecting fluid--mostly water and sand, but with additional chemicals--into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release the oil and natural gas inside.

Recent technological advances in oil and gas drilling--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing--have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges for states with fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for many states, not only those with fracking, but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Opponents of fracking argue that the potential negative environmental and human health impacts could be significant. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the United States, concerns have been raised about whether federal, state and local regulatory agencies can keep up with the recent rapid increase in fracking activity, and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are economic, environmental and political tradeoffs.

Fracking on federal lands

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a lease sale on July 17, 2014, for 102 parcels in Nevada. Together, the parcels encompassed 270 miles of public land. The land could be open to fracking, which took place for the first time in the state in March 2014. Lander County, along with the environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a formal challenge against the sale. According to USA Today, the two parties questioned "how exploration companies will obtain the necessary water...and why the BLM plans to allow the companies to lease land that many ranchers and farmers were interested in buying for grazing and growing alfalfa."[4]

In early July 2014, Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking filed suit against the BLM to halt the sale of the leases. The group argued that the BLM, in conducting its preliminary analysis of the matter and making the decision to sell the leases, failed to account for the discovery of a significant shale deposit in the southeastern part of the state. In the lawsuit, the group says, "The discovery of this rich shale deposit is a complete game-changer and renders any reliance on past gas exploration unreasonable, if not disingenuous."[5]

According to some experts, exploration of this shale deposit (known as the Chainman Shale) could result in the creation of 21,000 jobs and add as much as $1.8 billion to the land's value. Timothy Considine, an energy economics professor from the University of Wyoming, said, "The Chainman Shale is believed to have some of the richest shale rock characteristics of oil in the country and possibly the world."[5]

Natural gas use in Nevada

For more information on energy consumption in Nevada, see "Energy policy in Nevada"

In 2011, almost one-third of Nevada’s energy was for transportation, one quarter each was used in the industrial and residential sectors, and the remainder was used mostly in the commercial sector. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of natural gas (used primarily for home heating and air conditioning), followed by petroleum to support tourism in Las Vegas and Reno.[1]

Consumption of energy for heating homes in Nevada
Source Nevada 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 61.6% 49.5%
Fuel oil 0.7% 6.5%
Electricity 32.6% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 2.9% 5%
Other/none 2.1% 3.6%

Nevada produces a small amount of natural gas and imports the rest through interstate pipelines. Utah and Wyoming are the core providers of natural gas to the state. Secondary sources come from Arizona’s pipeline that connects Texas and New Mexico and the Malin Trading Hub in Oregon and Idaho.[6]

Where electricity comes from in Nevada[7]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Petroleum-fired 2 0.07% 0%
Natural gas-fired 1,969 70.7% 0%
Coal-fired 274 9.84% 0%
Hydroelectric 206 7.4% 0%
Other renewables 332 11.92% 0%
Total net electricity generation 2,785 100% 0%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission reports that it regulates 30 utility sellers in Nevada. Ten of these are electric utilities, one natural gas, three liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), two geothermal, and thirteen alternative energy suppliers.[8]

News items

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See also

External links