What Happens to Wastewater From Oil and Gas Extraction? EPA Seeks Input

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun soliciting information for a new study that will examine how numerous entities across the U.S., including industry, stakeholders, local officials, energy providers, states, and the EPA itself, regulate and manage wastewater produced during the oil and gas extraction processes.

The goal of the study is to develop better and more effective ways to dispose of, recycle, or reuse the wastewater generated during extraction. By way of example, and with regard to hydraulic fracturing, about half of the …

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In the Name of Transparency: EPA’s Proposed Rule to Limit Scientific Studies Raises Concern

On April 24, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a rule to impose limitations on what scientific studies may be used by the agency to promulgate regulations. Mr. Pruitt seeks to exclude from the agency’s consideration any scientific studies that contain confidential data on the grounds that the agency ought to be transparent about the information it relies upon in crafting regulations. The proposed rule has garnered support from certain scientific organizations, like the American Chemistry Council, but other scientific and …

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Up the Creek: The EPA Invites Public Comment Regarding Cleanup to NJ Superfund Site

The U.S. EPA is seeking public comment now on its proposed cleanup plan for the Berry’s Creek Study Area — a Superfund site located in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Berry’s Creek Study Area includes a 6.5 mile tributary of the Hacksensack River and about 12 miles of additional wetlands and industrial properties within the watershed. The creek originates near Teterboro Airport, runs through various sections of towns that are close to where Giants Stadium used to stand in the Meadowlands, and the fabled resting place …

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How Clean is Clean? Environmental Issues Hamper CA Wildfire Recovery

Late last year, we reported on the looming environmental threat of the 2017 California wildfires. The threat has become reality with respect to two contaminants in particular: benzene and arsenic.

As reconstruction moves forward in Northern California this year, real human health hazards created by the devastating fires are now present. Municipal officials in Fountaingrove, California have found elevated benzene readings in hundreds of samples of drinking water over the last several months, and the city is evaluating the necessity of replacing large portions of …

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Rounded Down: An Update on California Glyphosate Litigation

Last November, we brought your attention to litigation in federal court in California regarding the listing of glyphosate as a substance “known to the state to cause cancer.” Since then, there have been developments in both the originally reported federal court case and a state court case on the same subject.

First, a refresher: glyphosate is a common pesticide sprayed on more than 200 types of crops across four million acres in California. Monsanto Company, the principal plaintiff in both cases, produces glyphosate in …

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Legal Acrobatics or Sound Interpretation: Ground Water Regulation under the Clean Water Act

In February, we reported about whether ground water can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. As a refresher, we discussed Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui — a case involving the indirect discharge of injection well wastewater into the ocean by traveling through groundwater. The court held there that for purposes of the CWA the injection wells were a point source, requiring an NPDES permit for groundwater because “the pollutants are fairly traceable from the point source to a navigable water such that …

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GenX Update: State Environmental Agency Seeks Injunction Against Chemours From Further Discharging GenX

We’ve posted on several occasions about the ongoing litigation over GenX contamination emanating from the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.

The damages that defendants typically face in these trending water contamination actions arise not only from cleanup costs to the waterbody at issue, but from the impact to the surrounding communities —ranging from PI, damage to real property/diminution in value, natural resources, and medical monitoring. There’s also another type of damages in the form of equitable relief. Last …

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There Goes the Neighborhood — New Study Links Oil and Gas Facilities Near Residential Areas to Increased Health Risks

The Colorado School of Public Health has released a study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which claims that people living near oil and gas facilities may be subject to a higher risk of cancer and other diseases.

The study was focused on residents of Colorado’s northern Front Range, an area of Colorado experiencing an increase in both human population and development of oil and gas resources. The researchers took air samples from multiple sites in Northern Colorado at various distances from …

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Landmark Ruling: Trespass Claims Against Fracking Companies Proceed as Pennsylvania Recognizes Property Rights to Natural Gas

Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court — PA’s appellate court — published its opinion in Briggs v. Southwestern Energy Production, potentially altering the landscape of hydraulic fracturing litigation in Pennsylvania.

The intermediary appellate court’s decision centered on the interpretation of Pennsylvania’s rule of capture, which allows companies to drain a natural resource, including oil, gas, or water, from beneath property they do not own so long as they do not trespass on the surface level of the land. In its ruling, the Superior Court noted …

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States Sue EPA Over Delay in Setting Methane Emissions Standards

On April 5, 2018, 14 U.S. states filed a lawsuit against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging that the agency is “unreasonably delaying” the issuance of federal methane emissions standards.

The complaint names the EPA and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as the defendants. New York State is taking the lead in this challenge; other states joining the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, and New Mexico. The District of Columbia and the City of …

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