Future of Nebraska's oil and gas regulator being studied

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A hearing next month could help determine whether the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission will continue to regulate the mining industry in the state.

The Omaha World-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1TJH8yl ) lawmakers are considering eliminating the commission and assigning its duties to other agencies.

The commission has drawn criticism for the way it approved a proposal to allow a company to dispose of wastewater from oil exploration and production in an inactive Sioux County oil well.

Landowners and environmental groups concerned about the wastewater well plans filled a hearing the commission held in March to testify, but they were told none of their comments would be considered by the commission.

Then the permit Terex Energy Corp. of Broomfield, Colorado, asked for was approved. So the company has permission to truck salty groundwater and chemical-laden fracking wastewater that result from oil searches and production to a ranch north of Mitchell and inject it in an oil well.

Opponents cited possible threats to surface water and the Ogallala aquifer. Company officials deny the plan poses any threat to water resources.

Terex has said it has no customers contracted to use the well because oil mining activity has slowed.

The Sept. 22 hearing in Sidney will examine whether the commission’s regulatory duties should be handled by other state and local agencies. One of the commission’s critics, State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, will lead the hearing.

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