At its meeting on August 23, 2011, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) approved a new rule that will limit the amount of noise a natural-gas compressor station can emit. The new rule will limit the noise levels of a non-wellhead natural gas compressor to 55 decibels, as measured from the exterior of the nearest pre-existing “noise-sensitive area.” A noise-sensitive area is defined as a “private residence … school, hospital, church, nursing home or other building regularly used for overnight accommodations.” Compressor stations re-pressurize natural gas to keep it flowing through a pipeline. They are 40 to 100 miles apart and typically run 24 hours a day.
The rule still must be reviewed by a committee of the Arkansas Legislature before being implemented by the AOGC. The committee will consider the rule in October, and the new rule is scheduled to take effect in July 2012. While this rule is certainly a step in the right direction, questions have been raised about the need for a lower noise level at night, as well as the need to regulate noise from drilling activities. This rule can be found at the AOGC’s website.
At this same meeting, the AOGC approved a request by State Senator Jason Rapert to have the State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER), an Oklahoma based nonprofit, review Arkansas’ hydraulic fracturing regulations and compare them with other states’ regulations. STRONGER’s website describes it as “a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization whose purpose is to assist states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas.