EPA Plans Public Meeting on Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management

Large volumes of wastewater are generated in the oil and gas industry, and projections show that these volumes will only increase. Currently, the majority of this wastewater is managed by disposing of it using a practice known as underground injection, where that water can no longer be accessed or used. The limits of injection are evident in some areas, and new approaches are becoming necessary. Some states and stakeholders are asking whether it makes sense to continue to waste this water, particularly in water-scarce areas of the country, and what steps would be necessary to treat and renew it for other purposes.

The focus of the Environmental Protection Aagency’s (EPA's) study will be to engage with states, tribes, and stakeholders to consider available approaches to manage wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction at onshore facilities. The EPA’s study will address questions such as how existing federal approaches to produced-water management under the Clean Water Act can interact more effectively with state and tribal regulations, requirements, or policy needs and whether potential federal regulations that may allow for broader discharge of treated produced water to surface waters are supported. The EPA is particularly interested in working with its regulatory partners at the state level who are at the forefront of the changing industry and often manage complex water-allocation programs under state law.

The EPA is consulting with states, tribes, and stakeholders this summer, including industry and nongovernmental organizations. The agency is planning to hold a public meeting in Washington, DC, to report on what it have learned and to allow stakeholders to provide additional input. The EPA then plans to prepare a white paper that it can use to inform next steps. Following this study, the EPA will determine if future agency actions are appropriate to further address oil and gas extraction wastewater.

Public Meeting
The EPA will conduct a public meeting to report on what it has learned to date and provide stakeholders the opportunity to provide additional input.

The meeting will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 9 October at EPA Headquarters in Washington.

The meeting will begin with the EPA’s status report on the study. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the work happening across the federal government to coordinate federal resources and reduce duplication on cross-cutting water issues. The public input session will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Those wishing to attend or speak can register by emailing oil-and-gas-study@epa.gov.

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