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U.S. EPA Seeks Comments On Diesel Fracking Guidance

06.01.2011

By Andy Bowman, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

U.S. EPA is accepting stakeholder input until June 29, 2011 on guidance under development to assist permitting of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” using diesel fuels under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Fracking is a technique used to economically extract natural gas from low permeability deposits such as shale. Fracking involves pumping large quantities of water mixed with sand or other proppants into shale formations at extremely high pressure to fracture the shale and release natural gas into capture wells. Fracking has become the target of growing interest, particularly due to its widespread use to extract gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in the eastern United States.

Congress exempted fracking from SDWA permit requirements when it passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, except when diesel fuel is added to the fracking fluid. U.S. EPA has posted information concerning the guidance it has under development at www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing.

U.S. EPA has indicated that the guidance will address several issues including:

  • definition of diesel fuel
  • public notification
  • siting criteria
  • potential conduits for fluid migration
  • well operation requirements
  • monitoring and reporting
  • permit duration
  • type of permit (e.g., area vs. individual)
  • permit application requirements
  • financial responsibility requirements

Written comments may be submitted to hydraulic.fracturing@epa.gov with the words “Diesel Fuels Guidance Comments” in the subject line by June 29, 2011.

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