Suit seeks EPA rulemaking for oil and gas wastes

Several environmental groups recently filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC seeking an order compelling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new rules regulating oil and gas wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The suit contends that the EPA has not performed a mandatory duty to review its Subtitle D Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations for oil and gas wastes since 1988, in violation of a requirement to conduct a regulatory review every three years. The groups claim that the growth in oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a significant increase in wastes that contain constituents of concern, and that the waste is not being managed safely using existing disposal methods.

Pennsylvania House committee votes to block new oil and gas rules

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Environmental Resources and Energy Committee recently approved a resolution that would block new Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules for hydraulically fractured and conventionally developed oil and gas wells. Opponents of the new Chapter 78 and Chapter 78a rules have criticised them, arguing that the DEP exceeded its authority under state statutes and a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. The new requirements imposed on oil and gas drillers include:

  • a ban (with some exceptions) on the use of waste impoundments;
  • new reporting obligations; and
  • a new requirement for drillers to survey several types of public resources near well sites.

Critics allege that the Pennsylvania DEP also violated several procedural requirements in issuing the new rules. To stop the regulations, the resolution must be passed by both the full House and State Senate.

For further information on this topic please contact Roger Martella, Samuel Boxerman, Jim Wedeking or Joel Visser at Sidley Austin LLP by telephone (+1 202 736 8000) or email (rmartella@sidley.com, sboxerman@sidley.com, jwedeking@sidley.com or jvisser@sidley.com). The Sidley Austin LLP website can be accessed at www.sidley.com.

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