|RANGE RESOURCES CORP filed this Form 10-K on 02/22/2017|
feet from any occupied dwelling. While that particular legislation did not become law, should similar onerous regulations or bans relating to underground wells be placed in effect in areas where Range has significant operations, there could be an impact on Range’s ability to operate.
Hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, which has been used by the industry for over 60 years, is an important and common practice to stimulate production of natural gas and/or oil from dense subsurface rock formations. The hydraulic fracturing process involves the injection of water, sand and chemicals under pressure into targeted subsurface formations to fracture the surrounding rock and stimulate production. We routinely apply hydraulic fracturing techniques as part of our operations. This process is typically regulated by state environmental agencies and oil and natural gas commissions; however, several federal agencies have asserted regulatory authority over certain aspects of the process. For example, the EPA has issued final Clean Air Act (as defined below) regulations governing performance standards, including standards for the capture of air emissions released during hydraulic fracturing; proposed effluent limit guidelines that wastewater from shale gas extraction operations must meet before discharging to a treatment plant; and issued in May 2014 a prepublication of its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Toxic Substances Control Act reporting of the chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. Also, in March 2015, the Federal Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) released a final rule setting forth disclosure requirements and other regulatory mandates for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. Moreover, from time to time, Congress has considered adopting legislation intended to provide for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing and to require disclosure of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. In addition to any actions by Congress, certain states in which we operate, including Pennsylvania and Texas have adopted, and other states are considering adopting, regulations imposing or that could impose new or more stringent permitting, public disclosure, or well construction requirements on hydraulic fracturing operations. States could also elect to prohibit hydraulic fracturing altogether, such as in the State of New York. Local governments also may seek to adopt ordinances within their jurisdiction regulating the time, place or manner of drilling activities in general or hydraulic fracturing activities in particular. If new or more stringent federal, state or local legal restrictions relating to the hydraulic fracturing process are adopted in areas where we currently or in the future plan to operate, we may incur additional, more significant, costs to comply with such requirements and also could become subject to additional permitting requirements and experience added delays or curtailment in the pursuit of exploration, development, or production activities.
In addition, certain government reviews are underway that focus on environmental aspects of hydraulic fracturing practices. On December 13, 2016, the EPA issued its final report on the potential of hydraulic fracturing to impact drinking water resources through water withdrawals, spills, fracturing directly into such resources, underground migration of liquids and gases, and inadequate treatment and discharge of wastewater which did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systematic impacts on drinking water resources. Based on the EPA’s study, existing regulations and our practices, we do not believe our hydraulic fracturing operations are likely to impact drinking water resources but the EPA study could result in initiatives to further regulate hydraulic fracturing under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act or other regulatory mechanisms.
We believe that our hydraulic fracturing activities follow applicable industry practices and legal requirements for groundwater protection and that our hydraulic fracturing operations have not resulted in material environmental liabilities. We do not maintain insurance policies intended to provide coverage for losses solely related to hydraulic fracturing operations; however, we believe our existing insurance policies would cover any alleged third-party bodily injury and property damage caused by hydraulic fracturing including sudden and accidental pollution coverage.
Air emissions. The Clean Air Act of 1963 (as amended, the “Clean Air Act”), and comparable state laws restrict the emission of air pollutants from many sources, including compressor stations. These laws and any implementing regulations may require us to obtain pre-approval for the construction or modification of certain projects or facilities expected to produce air emissions, impose stringent air permit requirements, or use specific equipment or technologies to control emissions. We may be required to incur certain capital expenditures in the next few years for air pollution control equipment in connection with maintaining or obtaining operating permits and approvals for emissions of pollutants. For example, pursuant to then President Obama’s Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the EPA finalized new regulations in May of 2016 that set methane emission standards for new and modified oil and natural gas production and natural gas processing and transmission facilities as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector by up to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. In a second example, in October 2015, the EPA finalized a rulemaking proposal that revises the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone to 70 parts per billion for both the 8-hour primary and secondary standards. Compliance with one or both of these regulatory initiatives could directly impact us by requiring installation of new emission controls on some of our equipment, resulting in longer permitting timelines, and significantly increasing our capital expenditures and operating costs, which could adversely impact our business.
Climate change. In 2009, the EPA published its findings that emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) present a danger to public health and the environment because emissions of such gases are, according to the EPA, contributing to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and other climatic conditions. Based on these findings, the EPA adopted regulations under the existing Clean Air Act establishing Title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) permitting reviews for GHG emissions from certain large stationary sources that already are potential major sources of certain principal, or