oil and gas

Environmental Groups Sue EPA To Force Stricter Rules For “Hazardous Waste”

…but EPA has already found that oil and gas waste doesn’t meet the standards of hazardous waste…

A myriad of environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to update its rules for oil and gas drilling waste disposal, stating that the agency was “long overdue” for updates and tighter restrictions. The lawsuit cites hydraulic fracturing and the “problem” of U.S. energy production boom. The environmental groups include the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

The environmentalists are demanding that a judge to force the EPA not only to revise its regulations for waste materials, but to legislate from the bench to set strict deadlines for EPA to update waste disposal rules. The environmentalists’ goal is to ban the practice of spreading wastewater onto roads or fields, require landfills and pond to have special and expansive liners, and ultimately strictly regulate or ban injection wells.

The EPA has not commented on the lawsuit. But agency officials said in a written statement that “states play a primary role in regulating most natural gas and oil development” and that federal authority is limited.

“The EPA continues to work with states and other stakeholders to understand and address potential concerns with hydraulic fracturing to ensure that natural gas and oil production will proceed in a safe and responsible manner,” according to the statement.

Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said liquids such as fracking fluid shouldn’t even be part of this discussion. He said that’s regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Fuller also said the EPA has already determined that oil and gas waste doesn’t meet the standards of hazardous waste. He said there are some toxic materials there but in low levels, such as found in some household waste or other industrial waste.

And the EPA has been working with the states effectively for decades to improve storage, disposal and handling rules, he said.

“These wastes have been regulated by the states way back into the 1970s, probably the 1960s,” he said. “They’ve evolved over time as a result of peer reviews. …They have modified their regulations to reflecting changing technologies and changing places of operation.”