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:
|9.20-BREWED IN AMERICA OKTOBERFEST-2pm to 6pm-ANDES HOTEL|
|A little is a LOT! 5.16 acres of seclusion|
|25th Anniversary Flyer!|
|Product Protection Plans are now available at The Catalog Outlet!|
|New Reclining Living Room Collection Sale Priced, Only While Supplies Last!|
|Tonight’s Show: Catskill Trees with Gary Mead – bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis)|
|Tonight’s Show: Fleischmanns Woody Biomass Project with Todd Pascarella|
|Tonight's Show: Catskills Trees with Gary Mead|
|HealthAlliance Foundation Brings Back Cruisin’ for the Cure|
|Hudson River cruise Sept. 13 to raise funds for HealthAlliance ovarian cancer support program|
|FALL SALE – MENDOTA GAS FIREPLACES AND FIRE PLACE INSERTS|
|September ENVIRO Sale|
|End of Season SALE on FORNETTO Wood Fired Oven/Smoker|
|There’s Still Time - ANNIVERSARY SALE EXTENDED!|
|Meatloaf w/ Honey Glazed Carrots, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, & Gravy; Cod Filet Almandine; Local Arugula w/Caramelized Apples|
|The Foliage Seeker's Cycling Getaway|
|The Perfect Pair: Food & Fun in the Great Western Catskills|
|Eats & Entertainment in the Great Western Catskills|
|Enchanting cottage vacation rental w/hot tub in farm country, 15 mins to trendy Hudson|
|Terrific Labor Day rentals still available in Catskills and Hudson Valley, including romantic cottage and luxe house w/hot tub|
|BBQ Lunch honoring Shandaken's Parks & Playgrounds|
|Reflections at the Emerson Resort & Spa|
|Trail U: FREE Intro to Map & Compass Navigation, Sunday, Sept. 14|
|Radical Gratitude: A Workshop On Unexpected Gifts Sat. October 4|
|Two Businesses for the Price of One|
|Farmer's Market of the Week: Stamford Pop-Up Market|