EPA and gas drillers square off in court about diesel in frac fluid
11/9/10 - 12:34 pm
Do frackers have to get permits to inject diesel fuel into gas wells? The EPA says yes -- a position that's come under industry attack, via a lawsuit that's currently working its way through federal court.
Gas drillers using hydraulic fracturing techniques to recover shale gas are largely exempt from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). But the EPA has asserted some regulatory authority over the use of diesel fuel in frac fluid -- a process that, the agency claims, requires a permit under the SDWA. From www.epa.gov:
While the SDWA specifically excludes hydraulic fracturing from UIC [Underground Injection Control] regulation under SDWA § 1421 (d)(1), the use of diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing is still regulated by the UIC program. Any service company that performs hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuel must receive prior authorization from the UIC program. Injection wells receiving diesel fuel as a hydraulic fracturing additive will be considered Class II wells by the UIC program.
In August, the gas industry, represented by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and U.S. Oil and Gas Association, filed a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming that the policy on their website (quoted above) had not gone through the proper process for drafting regulations.
Last week, a large international law firm that often represents industry in oil and gas law issued a press release about an update in the case: On October 29, the EPA filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The D.C. Circuit court has not announced a timeline for its decision.
This is administrative law -- by nature, it's dry, technical, and revolves around details that seem absurdly nitpicky to the average non-lawyer. But there's much at stake here. The lawsuit examines one central question: Is the EPA's stated policy on diesel fuel in frac fluid a new regulation, or just an explanation of existing law under the Safe Drinking Water Act? If the gas industry prevails, the EPA will probably have to go back to the drawing board, and go through a more extended rulemaking process -- drafting regulations, soliciting public comment -- before they can assert their authority to regulate diesel in frac fluid.
Here's the press release:
|All about porcupines this Saturday!|
|Did you know woodchucks can climb trees?|
|Anglers -- The Catskills are calling|
|Were you there?|
|Andes Hotel Mother's Day Brunch|
|Mints of the Mountains! 3 Easy Ground Covers for Catskills Gardens!|
|All The Hyacinths Of The Catskills!|
|Mighty Mites of the Catskills and Other Little Critters! (What’s alive in the forest floor?)|
|Celebrity Waiter Event at Peekamoose June 4th|
|Fun, Fast and Furious Celebrity Waiter Event. Join us June 4th at Peekamoose|
|Woodfield - 1880s charm with glass, light, 2 fireplaces, pond and 8+ acres in Woodbourne, NY|
|Delightful renovated Dutch Colonial farmhouse in Jeffersonville, NY|
|Be Part of History in the Catskills: Help Build a New Trail|
|New from Tay Tea -- Matcha Green Tea!|
|FREE TASTING! SUNDAY, APRIL 24, NOON-6PM|
|JOHN VANDERLYN: KINGSTON NATIVE – RENOWNED NEOCLASSICAL ARTIST|
|CLEANING SERVICES WANTED FOR 2 OFFICES|
|A Home With A View|
|FARM OF DISTINCTION!|
|CATSKILL MOUNTAIN VIEWS IN ALL DIRECTIONS!|
|Interested in Learning how to build a new Lean-to?|
|Help Build the New Trail at the Catskill Interpretive Center|
|Volunteer with CRISP!|
|Beaverkill Trout is on the menu, and in the market to take home this weekend|
|Vendors Wanted for Great Catskill Mountain BBQ Fest - August 27|