Environmental Groups Bring NEPA Challenge to BLM Management Plan for Central Valley. On June 10, the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres Forest Watch brought a lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), alleging that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Bakersfield Resource Management Plan. Plaintiffs seek an injunction requiring BLM to complete a supplemental EIS before approving a new management plan for Bakersfield. The Bakersfield Field Office for which the plan was prepared manages 400,000 acres of public land and a mineral estate of 1.2 million acres.
Pennsylvania: State Commissions Study of Measures for Transporting Crude Oil by Rail. Pennsylvania recently commissioned a study to identify measures to improve the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. Crude transport through the state has increased dramatically in recent years, as refineries in Philadelphia and New Jersey have increasingly relied on supplies of crude from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to displace supplies from Africa and the Middle East. Since 2012, the share of east coast oil supplied by rail has increased from 5 percent to more than 50 percent. The results of Pennsylvania’s study are expected in August.
California: Environmental Group Sends Notice of Intent to Bring Prop 65 Challenge to Injection of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater. On June 11, the Center for Environmental Health took the first step toward bringing a Proposition 65 lawsuit against the underground injection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater by filing a 60-day notice letter. Prop 65 bans the contamination of actual or potential sources of drinking water with chemicals listed under the law. The notice letter alleges that hydraulic fracturing wastewater injected into wells in Kern County has concentrations of benzene and other chemicals that exceed allowable limits under Prop 65. California has long allowed underground injection to dispose of wastewater produced by oil and gas development pursuant to state and federal permits.
Researchers Evaluate Wastewater Injection and Seismicity. A recent article published by U.S. Geologic Survey scientists offers additional analysis on the potential causes of increased seismic activity in parts of eastern and central United States, concluding that wastewater injection wells, not hydraulic fracturing operations, are contributing to the increased activity. The report concludes, however, that the likelihood of induced seismicity due to wastewater injection is extremely small, as there have been only a few dozen reports of induced seismicity from thousands of active wastewater injection wells. The article also discusses potential options for mitigating induced seismicity from those wells.