TOPEKA — Kansas energy regulators have continued to allow oil and gas drillers to apply for injection-well permits without providing adequate public notice despite complaints on the matter, according to an attorney.
The Kansas Corporation Commission has issued more than 2,000 injection-well permits since 2008 after giving the public only 15 days to file protests instead of the 30 days required in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, attorney Robert Eye told the Lawrence Journal-World. Eye represents the Kansas Sierra Club, Douglas County and five individuals.
Underground injection wells have been linked to earthquakes in south-central Kansas that many residents said have caused significant property damage. Some residents have also said the wells can threaten underground drinking water supplies.
“The significance is they are choking us off in terms of giving us less and less time to try to mount a protest, to submit any kind of comment, and that’s a lot,” said Matfield Green resident Cindy Hoedel, who has complained about earthquakes in her area. “These notices get published in these tiny little newspapers, and sometimes it might take us 15 days before we find it, before somebody notices it.”
Hoedel had notified the state’s public utilities commission in October about several cases of inadequate public notice.
The commission then launched an internal investigation into the issue, which was expected Thursday to finish and clear regulators of any wrongdoing. But commissioners announced they’d delay their final order after Eye asked them to acknowledge an oil company’s July public notices for permits with 15-day protest periods.
“The remedy that we’ve asked for in that investigation docket is to have all the permits that were issued on a defective published notice to be revoked and to have the holders of those permits reapply under a proper notice,” Eye said.
The commission will next meet Sept. 6.