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EPA Holds Stakeholder Webinars on Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels

On June 15th, EPA held its last in a series of webinars with specific stakeholder groups to collect input on approaches to develop permitting guidance for hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels.  This activity falls under existing SDWA Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II regulations.  This guidance is being developed to address special considerations for diesel fuels that are added to hydraulic fracturing fluids as viscosifiers and as solvents to aid in the delivery of gelling agents.  Diesel fuels contain various amounts of contaminants (e.g., benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene) that can be hazardous to human health.

During the webinars, EPA provided an overview of options and approaches for each part of the permit process to be included in the guidance.  Feedback from participants to date has included the following recommendations for the guidance to:

  • Rely on existing state requirements and allow states more flexibility (e.g., for public notification periods, well construction standards, and production permitting time frames);
  • Notify state drinking water programs, public water systems in the area of review and along the lateral expanse, as well as neighboring land and mineral resource owners about upcoming permits;
  • Use a modeling approach (instead of a fixed radius) to determine the area of endangerment and risk to underground drinking water sources;
  • Identify abandoned wells within a half mile (or specific farther distance); and
  • Consider area or regional permits for multiple operators.

The Agency expects the draft guidance to be available for public comment this fall and be finalized by the end of CY 2011.  For more information, visit the EPA web site HERE.