The US Environmental Protection Agency released revised underground injection control (UIC) program permitting guidance for wells which use diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing activities. The regulation is expected to have minimal impact since the great majority of domestic oil and gas unconventional production has relied on other frac fluid ingredients for several years.
Congress exempted fracing from a federal requirement to have a UIC permit, except in instances where diesel is used, in a 2005 law, EPA said. It issued the guidance with an interpretive memorandum clarifying that Class II requirements apply to fracing activities using diesel fuels, and defines the statutory term by reference to 5 Chemical Abstract Services registry numbers.
EPA said that while the guidance was specifically developed for fracing where diesel is used, many of its recommended practices are consistent with best practices for fracing in general, including those found in state regulations and model fracing guidelines developed by industry and stakeholders.
“Thus, states and tribes responsible for issuing permits and/or updating regulations for hydraulic fracturing may find the recommendations useful in improving the protection of underground sources of drinking water and public health more broadly,” it said in its Feb. 11 announcement.
An environmental organization official welcomed EPA’s action, but added that congressional investigators found fracing companies reporting diesel use to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and Groundwater Protection Council’s FracFocus website as recently as October 2013.
“Despite the fact that diesel is clearly being used in fracing, oil and gas companies continue to deny using it,” Earthworks Executive Director Jennifer Krill said. “EPA should follow through with a formal rulemaking.”
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