The groups filing the notice letter include EIP, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. The groups are calling on the EPA to update waste disposal rules that they say should have been revised more than a quartercentury ago.
Specifically, the coalition is calling for stricter controls for underground injection wells, which pump billions of gallons of oil and gas wastewater deep underground and have been linked to earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. The coalition is also calling on the EPA to ban the practice of dumping wastewater from fracking on roads and fields. It also wants to require landfills and ponds that receive drilling and fracking waste to be built with adequate measures to prevent spills and leaks into groundwater and streams.
Waste from oil and gas production poses a growing environmental concern as the industry's ongoing fracking boom has produced a vast amount of solid and liquid waste. Each well produces millions of gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of drill cuttings, which often contain known carcinogens such as benzene, toxic metals such as mercury, and radioactive materials according to a statement by the Environmental Integrity Project.
Much of this waste, however, has been exempt from federal hazardouswaste laws since 1988 when oil and gas companies successfully lobbied Congress and the EPA for changes that leave waste disposal virtually unregulated.
The environmental groups notified the EPA that they will file a lawsuit in 60 days unless the agency complies with what they say is its duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to review and revise the federal regulations governing how oil and gas waste must be handled and disposed.
If the EPA does not act within 60 days, the group said it intends to ask a federal court to set strict deadlines for the EPA to update its regulations.
EPA deputy press secretary Laura Allen said the agency will review the environmental groups’ notice of intent and any related information submitted to the agency.