Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 27 of our State Regulatory Roundup, including updates in California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.
California – An October 16th report from the Environmental Defense Center calls on the Obama administration to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in federal waters off the California coastline. The report consists of a review of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement documents allegedly showing that there have been at least fifteen instances where hydraulic fracturing was utilized in California coastal waters in the past twenty years – the majority of which were from two platforms off Ventura County coastline. The report recommends an end to categorical exemptions from environmental laws otherwise applicable to hydraulic fracturing and other types of well stimulation, evaluation of all offshore well stimulation activities through a programmatic environmental impact statement, confirmation that proposals comply with Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act provisions, and adjustment of the permit for offshore platforms to address potential harm from flowback of chemicals and wastewater.
Ohio – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has notified shale oil and gas drillers that they are required to disclose hydraulic fracturing chemicals to local safety officials to comply with federal law. Drillers had previously been required to disclose such information to the mining management database of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but to no other public entities. However, the agency has determined that state reporting rules do not supersede federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”) requirements, and drillers are therefore required to report chemical hazard information to local regulators.
Pennsylvania – A group of Duke University researchers has found elevated levels of salts and metals in stream water and elevated levels of radium in stream bottom sediments at the discharge point for a wastewater treatment plant that has received shale gas drilling and production wastewater. The findings were detailed in a report published on October 2nd in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The report alleged that the chloride and bromide salts and other effluents that were detected match the composition of Marcellus Shale wastewaters. Detected levels of radium in sediments were about 200 times higher than upstream and background sediments, and were higher than the regulatory threshold for safe radioactive waste disposal. Such concentration introduces potential environmental hazards from bioaccumulation in localized areas, according to the report. However, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition called the study outdated, noting that its member companies has stopped sending wastewater to publicly owned treatment works in May 2011.