31 August 2015

Sidley Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing Report

Vol. 4, No. 35

Topics discussed in this week’s Report include:

  • NGOs Seek to Compel New Regulation of Oil and Gas Drilling Waste.
  • EPA Schedules Public Hearings on Proposed Oil and Gas Rules.
  • Former Disposal Well Operator Indicted Under Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Florida: State Senators Reintroduce Bill to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing.
  • Ohio: County Drops Youngstown’s Proposed Anti-Oil and Gas Charter Provision From Election Slate.

Federal

NGOs Seek to Compel New Regulation of Oil and Gas Drilling Waste. A group of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has notified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they intend to sue the agency, alleging EPA failed to update regulations governing drilling wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 1988, EPA issued a determination exempting produced water, drilling fluids and other materials from regulation as hazardous waste, but recommended that the agency promulgate rules governing the waste under RCRA’s Subtitle D solid waste program. The NGOs are arguing that as EPA has not enacted the recommended Subtitle D rules, or revisited the 1988 exemption, the agency has violated a statutory mandate to review RCRA rules every three years and revise when necessary.

EPA Schedules Public Hearings on Proposed Oil and Gas Rules. EPA announced that it will hold three public hearings in September on new regulations governing emissions from the oil and gas sector which the agency proposed earlier this month: the proposed Clean Air Act New Source Performance Standards for the oil and gas sector; a proposed rule for how “adjacent” emissions points should be defined for purposes of the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V permit requirements; and a Clean Air Act Federal Implementation Plan that would apply to new minor sources and minor modifications at existing minor sources in the oil and gas production sector on Tribal lands. The first two rules are discussed in more detail here.

Former Disposal Well Operator Indicted Under Safe Drinking Water Act. A former operator of an underground injection well in North Dakota was indicted on 13 felony counts, including for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as well as for conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of grand jury proceedings. The well in question, known as the Halek 5-22, received produced water, or drilling waste fluids, from nearby hydraulic fracturing wells. Among other contentions, the indictment alleges the former operator conspired with others to violate the SDWA by injecting fluids down the backside of the well, in violation of well’s operating permit, and that the former operator continued to use the well after it failed a pressure test.

States

Florida: State Senators Reintroduce Bill to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing. Two state senators in Florida reintroduced legislation that would seek to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing or any “well stimulation treatment” to recover oil and gas throughout the state and in waters adjacent to the state. A previous version of the bill failed to get past the Florida State Senate’s environmental committee.

Ohio: County Drops Youngstown’s Proposed Anti-Oil and Gas Charter Provision From Election Slate. The Mahoning County Board of Elections voted 4-0 to deny certification of Youngstown’s proposed “community bill of rights” for inclusion on the ballot in the upcoming November election. The proposed charter amendment would have banned all oil and gas drilling within Youngstown. In making its decision, the Board of Elections concluded the proposal violated the Ohio state constitution under a February Ohio Supreme Court decision holding that municipalities cannot regulate hydraulic fracturing through zoning ordinances.

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