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Natural Gas

EPA Slated To Soften Diesel Fracking Policy

Under a recent settlement agreement with industry groups, EPA is slated March 15 to soften controversial policy language on its website that had required hydraulic fracturing operations that use diesel fuel in their injection fluid to seek strict underground injection control (UIC) permits.

The settlement deadline may also coincide with release of the agency's long-awaited draft guidance for how states and regions should craft permitting conditions for those operations -- which has been under review by the White House Office of Management & Budget since Dec. 14.

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EPA Seeks More Fracking Well Tests

EPA is conducting an additional round of water-well testing to determine whether natural gas drilling activities contaminated a Pavillion, WY, aquifer and will delay a peer review of its controversial draft conclusions that drilling fluids may have caused the pollution until the new test data is available.

The additional testing could quell concerns expressed by state officials, industry groups and GOP lawmakers that the agency could use the draft conclusions of a single study to make the case for increased regulation of drilling activities.

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EPA Settlement Raises Enforcement Doubts For Diesel Fracking Violations

EPA's agreement with industry to amend its informal policy for issuing permits to hydraulic fracturing operations using diesel fuels appears likely to curtail citizen and regulatory enforcement actions for drilling companies' unpermitted past uses of the fuel, including several high-profile cases documented by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), activists say.

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EPA Enforcement Push Opens Door To Scrutiny Of Drilling Wells' Siting

EPA Region III is increasingly requiring drilling operators to seek Clean Water Act (CWA) dredge-and-fill permits for construction of hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale, opening the door to EPA oversight of well-siting that has traditionally been a state function.

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OMB Reviews Oil, Gas Air Rules

EPA has sent for White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review its highly anticipated rule revising new source performance standards (NSPS) and air toxics rules for the oil and natural gas sector, suggesting EPA could be on track to meet its April 5 legal deadline for issuing the rules.

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Activists Urge EPA To Reject Data Challenge Over Drilling GHG Estimates

Environmentalists are urging EPA to reject an industry-filed Data Quality Act (DQA) petition challenging the agency's method for estimating greenhouse gases (GHG), including methane from natural gas drilling -- underpinning pending EPA rules for the sector -- by warning that EPA could violate the data quality guidelines if it changes the estimates.

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Activists Ask EPA For NEPA Review On Upstream Impacts Of LNG Exports

Environmentalists are urging EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to compel  stronger National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of proposals to export liquified natural gas (LNG) to examine potential upstream impacts stemming from increased production, including greater use of hydraulic fracturing.

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EPA Elevates Fracking Study

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says the agency will treat its controversial draft report concluding that hydraulic fracturing operations in a Wyoming town likely contributed to contamination of a nearby aquifer as a “highly influential scientific assessment” (HISA), a move Republicans and industry have sought to heighten scientific scrutiny of the assessment, though the agency is formally designating the study as an “influential scientific information (ISI).”

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Murkowski Seeks Streamlined Fracking Oversight

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is looking for ways to use the appropriations process to streamline federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing techniques that have boosted natural gas supplies and made gas the compliance fuel of choice for utilities grappling with EPA rules.

According to a Murkowski spokesman, the lawmaker has serious concerns that EPA and nine other federal agencies play some role in the federal government's review of fracking activities.

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Resolutions Question Fracking Risks

Several new shareholder resolutions are calling on some major energy companies to assess and mitigate potential financial risks from the public backlash over hydraulic fracturing, asking gas producers to draft reports to investors on the potential short- and long-term financial risks from public outcry and potential fracking regulations.

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