Energy, Enforcement and Inspection

Zero Pretreatment Effluent Limits for O&G Fracking

A U.S. district judge in Wyoming has “set aside” the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule imposing environmentally protective requirements on hydraulically fractured oil and gas (O&G) wells on federal and Indian lands.

According to the BLM, the intent of the rule (March 26, 2015, FR) was to compel O&G operators to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, strengthen regulations related to wellbore integrity, and address issues related to water produced during O&G operations.

But Judge Scott W. Skavdahl found that the rule has no basis in any federal law that lists the powers of the Department of the Interior and the BLM. Moreover, wrote Skavdahl, Congress has spoken on hydraulic fracturing in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which includes an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) indicating that EPA’s authority to regulate underground injection does not cover hydraulic fracturing except when diesel fuels are used. BLM’s attempt to find additional regulatory authority over hydraulic fracturing in other statutes that do not explicitly reference the practice “makes no sense,” adds Skavdahl.

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