Tag: EPA

North Dakota’s UIC Class VI Primacy Wait is Almost Over

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to approve North Dakota’s application for primary enforcement authority over the underground injection of CO2 for geologic sequestration in that state.  Nearly four years after North Dakota became the first state to seek primacy from EPA over carbon sequestration wells – known as Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class … Continue Reading

EPA Proposes to Require $7+ Billion of Financial Assurances from U.S. Hardrock Mining Industry Under CERCLA Section 108(b)

Last week the EPA officially published its proposal to impose over $7 billion of financial assurance requirements on the owners and operators of currently active or idle hardrock mines and mineral processing facilities. 82 Fed. Reg. 3388 (Jan. 11, 2017).  These proposed requirements are intended to cover estimated response costs, natural resource damages, and health … Continue Reading

Industry Groups Push Back Against Environmental Activists in Suit Over Oil & Gas Waste Disposal Regs.

As we discussed earlier, environmental activists have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to update its oil and gas drilling waste disposal rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”).  The groups sought to force the EPA’s hand by suing the EPA in an attempt to get a court order requiring the EPA to … Continue Reading

EPA Issues Expansive, Costly New Source Performance Standards for Oil and Gas Sector

Widely anticipated on both sides of the aisle, on May 12, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released final regulations to curb emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (“VOC”) from additional new, modified, and reconstructed sources in the oil and gas industry.  The Final Rule, titled,  ‘Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards … Continue Reading

Environmentalists Sue EPA to Force Update of Drilling Waste Regulations

On May 4, 2016, a coalition of environmental organizations (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection (“EPA”) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the EPA to promulgate revised regulations and guidelines for the disposal, storage, transportation, and handling of oil and gas wastes.  Environmental Integrity Project et al. v. … Continue Reading

Financial Assurance Requirements are on the Horizon for Hard Rock Miners

On January 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to finalize the long-awaited “financial assurance” regulations under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).  The hard rock mining industry is first in line to be subject to  the … Continue Reading

Miners and States take Notice, the EPA is Updating its CERCLA Financial Responsibility Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has recently announced that it would take steps to finalize rules establishing financial responsibility requirements for hard rock mines under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). Section 108(b) gives the EPA the authority to require certain facilities to have some type of financial … Continue Reading

Activists Threaten to Sue if EPA doesn’t Update RCRA Regs to Cover Oil & Gas Industry

On Wednesday, August 26, a coalition of environmental groups threatened to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) if the regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) are not updated to restrict the disposal of waste associated with oil and gas production. The coalition specifically asked the EPA to review and revise the … Continue Reading

U.S. EPA Proposes New Rules to Curb Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Sector

On August 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released proposed regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from oil and gas facilities. These first-ever proposed standards are a key part of a broader strategy, under the President’s Climate Action Plan, to cut methane emissions in the sector by 40% … Continue Reading

EPA Finds No Systemic Threat to Drinking Water from Fracking

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a long awaited, and congressionally mandated, study detailing the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. The EPA found no signs of “widespread, systemic” drinking water pollution from hydraulic fracturing. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date,” says Dr. Thomas Burke, with the EPA’s … Continue Reading

Federal Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Spurned by Senate

On Wednesday, January 28, the Senate voted against Amendment 48 which would allow the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to regulate hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on state and private lands.  The measure was presented by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as a negotiated amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act.  The amendment would have repealed sections of … Continue Reading

EPA Announces Plan for Rulemaking to Reduce Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.  (See White House Fact Sheet.)  The EPA’s goal is to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025.  The proposed regulations will set standards to reduce methane … Continue Reading

EPA Delays Potential Fracking Chemical Disclosure Mandates

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) extended the public comment period for its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) for hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rules.  The USEPA initially requested public comment on May 9, 2014 by issuing the ANPR.  This set a 90-day public comment period, slated to end on … Continue Reading

Study Suggests EPA Underestimated Natural Gas Methane Emissions, But Not for Fracking, and EPA Releases Study Examining Fracking Emissions Controls

In several recent studies on methane emissions relating to the natural gas industry, scientists concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underestimated the quantity of methane the industry releases to the atmosphere. A study released Monday, based on air samples above wells in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania, indicates that methane emissions may be from 100 to 1000 times higher than EPA estimates. But this study also found that hydraulic fracturing was not a primary source of methane emissions. Also this week, EPA released five white papers for peer review identifying fracking, along with compressors, leaks, liquids unloading and pneumatic devices, as a potentially significant source of methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. The papers are the first step in President Obama's Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions targeting several areas, including the oil and gas sector, for reducing methane emissions.… Continue Reading

EPA Releases Final Guidance for Fracking Using Diesel Fuels

Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels under its Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. The final guidance comes more than a year and a half after EPA issued the initial draft, concluding that fracking operations using diesel fuel as a fracking fluid or propping agent were subject to UIC Class II permitting requirements (see May 8, 2012, post). Fracking activities not using diesel fuels are excluded from UIC requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act pursuant to the 2005 Energy Policy Act.… Continue Reading

USGS Tool Could Predict, Prevent Wetlands Contamination By Sub-Surface Wastewater

While advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have resulted in an oil and gas boom in North Dakota and other parts of the U.S., the industry, federal and state regulators, and local communities have also had to contend with outgrowths of that development.  One particular issue confronting those groups is how to handle and dispose of … Continue Reading

The Heat’s Still On! – Offshore Operators Must Disclose Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced that starting on March 1, 2014, oil and gas operators performing offshore hydraulic fracturing operations must maintain an inventory of chemicals used to formulate frac fluid, and if there is any discharge of that fluid, to include the chemical formulation to the EPA within a quarterly discharge monitoring report. These new … Continue Reading

EPA Requires Reporting of Certain Chemical Compounds Used in Fracking

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule that would require notification to EPA before manufacturing, importing or processing a particular type of chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing operations. These chemicals, described as quaternary ammonium compounds, are used in fracking fluids to eliminate bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products.… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rejects Logging Road Permit Requirement – Will Oil and Gas Benefit?

On March 20, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center 586 U.S. (2013) that storm water discharges from logging roads do not require an NPDES permit under the CWA. The decision turns largely on deference to EPA’s interpretation of its own regulations. Whether this holding will be extended to mining or … Continue Reading

Both Sides Challenge EPA’s New Fracking Air Emissions Rules

Nine separate petitions for review were filed lask week in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA's New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for fracking well completions and revised National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for major sources at oil and gas production facilities. The petitioners include environmental groups, industry associations and the State of Texas.… Continue Reading

EPA Issues Final Rule Governing Fracking Emissions

Last week, EPA issued a final rule imposing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) on fracking well completions.  The rule applies to new gas wells and refractured gas wells, which are considered “modifications” subject to NSPS.  Under the new rule, fracking operators must use reduced emission completions, also known as RECs or green completions, to reduce … Continue Reading

Industry Report Suggests Improvements for EPA’s Proposed Fracking Study

The American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance sponsored a report finding that EPA’s proposed hydraulic fracturing study plan could be improved in several areas.  The report finds that the proposed EPA study reaches beyond the scope of Congress’s stated purpose – studying the relationship between fracking and drinking water.  Rather than focus on … Continue Reading
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