Today an article appeared in The Topeka Capital-Journal, a local newspaper, indicating that a lawsuit has been filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a push for updated oil and gas industry waste regulations. Outdated rules have led to an increase in earthquakes, ground water contamination and other health and safety issues.
The senior attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project, Adam Kron, said the EPA has failed to protect the environment and the public because industry waste hasn’t been updated for 28 years in spite of the requirements that it review the laws every 3 years. In 1988 EPA did review the rules on the books and reported they needed to be updated. EPA never issued those rules.
Regulation of the industry, which has increased exponentially, has been left to the states. The challenges of waste disposal related to oil and gas have been in the news because of fracking and the disposal of saltwater used in the process causing earthquakes. The oil and gas industry also has disposed of waste in open pits and spreading wastewater on roadways where open pits are notoriously responsible for contaminating groundwater. This impacts us worldwide as this waste can cause health impacts and drinking water contamination. The Kansas Corporation Commission has taken steps in forming the Induced Seismicity Task Force in 2014 to study and report on the increased seismic activity.
In March of 2015 the KCC issued an order that was sort of a staged reduction of volume in 5 areas of seismic concern in 2 Kansas counties. Seismic activity has decreased significantly in 2016. KCC’s Arif said the state does regulate the industry, including ensuring wellbores are built to keep the fluids contained so they don’t seep into nearby water formations. This is true for producing wells and wells used for disposal or injection.
Kron and others with the environmental organization are concerned some states aren’t adequately protecting their residents and they listed incidents of ground contamination and earthquakes to prove their point, adding that this waste is toxic and can be very hazardous. EPA’s failure to act in this arena has resulted in uneven, inadequate enforcement, a regulatory permissiveness. Don’t we have enough other elements testing our health without dealing with unsafe water of waste and sewage? Hopefully all other states will jump on the bandwagon and demand safer standards for the population.
-Dr Fredda Branyon