Latest fracking news; cross-state injections and invasive mussels

There’s a lot to the business of shale oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and I just learned about a few more considerations being discussed here in Wyoming; cross-state injection of drilling fluids and concern about whether industrial water trucks might carry invasive aquatic life such as the zebra mussel and quagga mussel.

These were discussed at the Wyoming Water Association’s annual meeting and education seminar in Casper this week. It’s common practice for drilling and production fluids to be injected into a designated waste water zone. John Wagner, administrator of Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Quality Division, said there are not many permitted injection wells in southeast Wyoming to fit the bill for operators chasing the Niobrara shale oil play.

“So a lot of Wyoming hydrofrack and drilling fluids are hauled to Colorado for injection,” said Wagner.

It takes a lot of water — approximately 5 million gallons — to drill and hydraulically fracture a horizontal shale oil well in the Niobrara. And much of that water is handled by trucks. Lately, Wyoming Game and Fish officials have discussed whether industrial water trucks could potentially bring invasive aquatic species into the state.

In recent years, boaters have been asked to drain, clean and dry their boats when traveling from lake to lake and from state to state. But it’s unclear whether professional water-haulers will be asked to comply with the same practices.

“It’s something that’s been kicked around,” Wyoming G&F game warden Brady Frude said in a phone interview on Friday. “The way it’s written in statute now is any conveyance of water is subject to inspection.”

— Contact Dustin Bleizeffer, WyoFile editor-in-chief at 307-577-6069 or

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 25 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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