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Water Blog

Federal Court Dismisses RCRA Suit Seeking Limitations on Oklahoma Wastewater Injection Wells

On April 4, 2017, Western District of Oklahoma Judge Stephen Friot dismissed an action brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) by the Sierra Club against four deep fluid injection well operators. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ use of wastewater injection wells presented an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment” in violation of RCRA because it supposedly causes “waste-induced earthquakes.” The Sierra Club sought a wide range of injunctive relief, asking the court to order defendants to substantially reduce the volume of wastewater they inject into disposal wells, reinforce vulnerable structures, and establish a seismic activity monitoring center to further analyze (and predict) the potential for seismic effects of underground injection of oilfield wastes. 

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Executive Order Calls for Rescinding or Revising WOTUS Rule

On February 28, President Trump issued an Executive Order (the “Order”) calling on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) to rescind or revise the controversial Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) rule, which was finalized in June 2015.  Specifically, the Order requires the EPA Administrator and the Assistant Secretary of the USACE to review the WOTUS rule in light of a policy statement set forth in the Order, which states that it is in the national interest to both keep the nation’s water free from pollution, and “promot[e] economic growth, minimiz[e] regulatory uncertainty, and show[] due regard for the roles played by Congress and the States under the Constitution.”

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  • 30
  • September
  • 2016

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TCEQ Proposed Rule Would Allow Disposal of Additional Wastes in Underground Oil and Gas Waste Disposal Wells

In July 2016, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) proposed a new rule that would allow TCEQ to authorize the disposal of new wastes in underground wells currently used for oil and gas waste disposal. TCEQ’s proposal is grounded in statutory authority granted to it by H.B. 2230, which was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June 2015 and took effect on September 1, 2015. Specifically, H.B. 2230 allows TCEQ to authorize disposal of nonhazardous brine or nonhazardous drinking water treatment residuals by injection into a Class II disposal well that has already been permitted by the Texas Railroad Commission (“RRC”). The RRC authorizes Class II wells used for wastes and byproducts associated with the energy industry. Currently, injection well disposal of nonhazardous brine or nonhazardous drinking water treatment residuals are typically Class V wells that are authorized by the TCEQ.

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  • 16
  • June
  • 2016

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EPA Releases Final Rule Prohibiting Discharge of Unconventional E&P Wastewaters to Public Treatment Facilities

On June 13, EPA released its final rule prohibiting unconventional oil and gas well operators from discharging wastewater to publicly-owned treatment works (“POTWs”). The final rule only applies to unconventional oil and gas well operators; conventional wells and coalbed methane extraction facilities are unaffected. 

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