Weighing In On EPA’s Wastewater Study

on October 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

EPA held a public hearing on its Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management and heard a number of comments. These include those from operators and trade associations representing industry nationally and in states with high levels of oil and natural gas production – all supporting safe, responsible onshore development using innovative solutions that protect water. A sampling:

Amy Emmert, API senior policy advisor: “Before consideration of any rulemaking, there should be additional discussion of specific regulatory possibilities to avoid unintended consequences. At the federal level, produced water should be treated like any other category of industrial effluent. Science and technology-based effluent criteria should be established that allow discharges that are protective of environment. States should continue to be the primary implementation authority for produced water discharges similar to other industrial categories. The regulatory framework demonstrates that water can be managed safely and effectively. The oil and natural gas industry is committed to the reuse of water within our operations to offset water needs and reduce disposal, where practical.”

Bruce Thompson, American Exploration & Production Council president: “We want regulation that reflects the importance of conserving water resources, rather than incentivizing their disposal. AXPC members are looking for pathways for increased regulatory options that protect receiving waters and replace unnecessary restrictions with clear and consistent standards that provide regulatory certainty and aid industry decision-making and foster innovation. We believe that resource protection need not come at the expense of conservation – particularly given that water availability concerns are no longer confined to the ‘arid West’.” See online testimony.t

Lee Fuller, IPAA executive vice president: “Treated wastewater from oil and natural gas production could be an important and environmentally beneficial addition to America’s water supply. States are the primary managers of water assets within their boundaries. EPA is opening an assessment of the potential for expanding these assets with treated oil and natural gas wastewater. EPA has the opportunity to provide states the options they need to improve their water assets. IPAA believes that the federal regulators should provide the framework that the states need.”

John Robitaille, Petroleum Association of Wyoming vice president: Wyoming’s produced water is “water that works” – from the point of discharge and along its entire flowpath. The effluent from these facilities permitted under Subcategory E is entirely consumed in this arid environment, is crucial to many agricultural operations, and has created very significant wildlife habitat. For example, consider the beneficial use of produced water documented by just one of our members (Merit Energy Company) where their fresh produced water discharges (with TDS as low as 600 mg/L) have been subjected to water right filings for irrigation and stock watering and have resulted in over 140 miles of perennial streams across an otherwise arid landscape, the creation of 876 acres of wetlands, 3,946 acres of riparian habitat, and sustains nearly 785 acres of lacustrine habitat.

David Clark, Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil Coalition president: “USEPA should foster flexibility between federal and state regulators, recognizing that many environmental issues require regional solutions. Pennsylvania has extensive regulations for both conventional and unconventional operators within a comprehensive framework of environmental laws. USEPA’s abrogation of this necessary state distinction under its UOG Rule is at odds with cooperative federalism and respect for differences necessitated by local factors. Federal rulemaking is often a blunt instrument that should be exercised with restraint.”

John Tintera, Texas Alliance of Energy Producers president: “The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers recognizes the best place to regulate oil field produced water is at the state level.  Texas already has a vibrant recycling industry with strong state regulatory oversight. Texas also has more resources to permit, inspect, and ensure compliance than federal agencies. In the spirit of cooperative federalism, we encourage a review and updating of federal NPDES permitting as well as delegation of that authority to the State.

By Reid Porter

Originally posted October 9, 2018

Energy Tomorrow is brought to you by the American Petroleum Institute (API), which is the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Our more than 500 corporate members, from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry. They are producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, as well as service and supply companies that support all segments of the industry.