Volume 17, Issue 8
As a result of a lawsuit from several environmental groups that was brought forward in May of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to look into its regulations regarding how companies should dispose of oil and gas waste.
“Safeguards to protect our scarce water resources in the San Juan Basin, home to 40,000 wells, have been ignored for far too long,” said Dan Olson, executive director of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “Updating rules for oil and gas waste, deemed inadequate 30 years ago, is critical for this region.”
In May 2016, a coalition of environmental groups came together and filed a lawsuit against the EPA. They claim that the agency has failed to meet its own expectations set in the 1980s to review oil and gas regulations, as well as guidelines for states, every three years.
“Since that time, nearly nine successive three-year deadlines have passed with no further review,” according to a notice of intent filed in August 2015. “(Current regulations) do not specifically address issues relevant to the modern oil and gas industry.”
A settlement was reached between the EPA and environmental groups on December 20, 2016. Per the agreement, the EPA will review its regulations on oil and gas waste, and if the agency deems it “necessary,” make revisions to the guidelines.
The deadline for the EPA to determine whether or not changes are warranted for “wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil, natural gas, or geothermal energy” is March 15, 2019.
Per the agreement and the court document, the EPA must make a formal announcement no matter what their decision is, and then they must provide a decision of notice to the environmental groups who brought forth the lawsuit within seven days of their announcement.
“The EPA itself deemed current regulations inadequate nearly 30 years ago,” said Erika Brown, with the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The consent decree is a big step forward for holding the EPA accountable to regulate oil and gas waste in ways that protect human and environmental health.”
Part of the settlement includes a clause regarding then President elect and now President Donald Trump. It discusses the possibility that President Trump will make good on his promise to defund the EPA. “(Environmental groups) and EPA recognize that the possibility exists that a lapse in appropriations by Congress resulting in government shutdown could delay EPA’s performance of obligations contained in this Consent Decree,” the court document says.
“In the event of a government shutdown affecting EPA that occurs within 120 days prior to a deadline … deadline shall be extended automatically one day for each day of the shutdown.”
Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, include the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
Do you think the EPA will make any changes to the regulations after their review?
Source: Romeo, Jonathan. “EPA Agrees to Review Regulations on Oil and Gas Waste.” Durangoherald.com. Durango Herald, 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.