Using diesel fuel in oil and gas hydraulic fracturing.

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May 5, 2012 | Kansas City InfoZine | Shared as an educational material

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released draft underground injection control (UIC) program permitting guidance for class II wells that use diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing activities. EPA developed the draft guidance to clarify how companies can comply with a law passed by Congress in 2005, which exempted hydraulic fracturing operations from the requirement to obtain a UIC permit, except in cases where diesel fuel is used as a fracturing fluid.

The draft guidance outlines for EPA permit writers, where EPA is the permitting authority, requirements for diesel fuels used for hydraulic fracturing wells, technical recommendations for permitting those wells, and a description of diesel fuels for EPA underground injection control permitting. The draft guidance describes diesel fuels for these purposes by reference to six chemical abstract services registry numbers. The agency is requesting input on this description.

While this guidance undergoes public notice and comment, decisions about permitting hydraulic fracturing operations that use diesel fuels will be made on a case-by-case basis, considering the facts and circumstances of the specific injection activity and applicable statutes, regulations and case law, and will not cite this draft guidance as a basis for decision.

EPA will take public comment on the draft guidance for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register to allow for stakeholder input before it is finalized.

Hydraulic Fracturing Under the Safe Drinking Water Act

Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and the process known as hydraulic fracturing is one way of accessing that vital resource. Hydraulic fracturing is used by gas producers to stimulate wells and recover natural gas from sources such as coalbeds and shale gas formations. Hydraulic fracturing is also used for other applications including oil recovery. Over the past few years, several key technical, economic, and energy policy developments have spurred increased use of hydraulic fracturing for gas extraction over a wider diversity of geographic regions and geologic formations. Along with the expansion of hydraulic fracturing, there have been increasing concerns about its potential impacts on drinking water resources, public health, and environmental impacts in the vicinity of these facilities.

Draft Guidance: Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels

EPA has developed draft Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II permitting guidance for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel fuels. This document describes information useful in permitting the underground injection of oil- and gas-related hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels where EPA is the permitting authority. EPA’s goal is to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements and strengthen environmental protections consistent with existing law.

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