By Wu Qing  King & Wood Mallesons’ Commercial & Regulatory groupKing & Wood Mallesons (“KWM”) is the exclusive partner firm of Thomson Reuters in PRC for its environmental law section. KWM has been a contributor to the “Environmental law and practice in China: overview” (the “Q&A Guide”) for three consecutive years (2016/17/18). The Q&A Guide is a specialized guide to China’s environmental law. It provides a high level overview of environmental law in China and looks at key practical issues including emissions to air and water, environmental impact assessments, solid and hazardous waste, contaminated land, and environmental issues in transactions. KWM provides updated insights for the Q&A Guide every year based on the latest environmental law and regulatory trends. The most recent edition of Q&A Guide 2017/2018 will be forwarded on “KWM Institute”(KWM_China), KWM’s official WeChat account, periodically as special session, providing companies with a complete guide to the legal system and practice of environmental law in China.

Is fracking being pursued or considered in your jurisdiction? If so, what is the regulatory framework that applies to manage environmental risks? 
Hydraulic fracturing is widely used in coal mine methane extraction and shale gas development. Policy documents related to managing the environmental risk of hydraulic fracturing include the:

  • Policy on Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies of Petroleum and Natural Gas Exploitation Industry.
  • Policy on Shale Gas Industry.
Consenting and environmental impact assessment
There is no specific regulation on administrative consenting and environmental impact assessments relating to hydraulic fracturing. Oil and gas enterprises are subject to the strict technical demonstration and approval process regarding the construction design and technical measures in relation to fracturing (Opinions of the State Administration of Work Safety on Strengthening control management in high pressure oil and gas fields and preventing hydrogen sulfide poisoning).
Other issues 
There is no specific regulation on government land acquisition, public consultation and objection to hydraulic fracturing. However, the administrative authorities stipulate the following preventive measures to control the environmental risk of fracturing:

  • Fracturing fluid must be subject to recycling or harmless disposal.
  • Fracturing operations must take preventive measures to avoid blowout, leak, overflow or damage on surface pipelines.
  • The land being occupied for fracturing operations and ground engineering constructions must be reduced, the vegetation on that land restored in a timely manner, water resources saved, various waste disposal measures implemented and the environment protected.

Fracturing operations must take measures to protect groundwater and soil, and to prevent contamination of groundwater and soil during shale gas development.