Henry Waxman and Diana DeGette, Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a letter urging the OMB to finalize the EPA's permitting guidance for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel fuel. The letter referred to a May 2012 draft guidance that the EPA published seven years after the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) became law and required special authorization for oil and gas producers to use diesel fuels in hydraulic fracturing operations. Section 1421(d)(1) of the SDWA provides for an exemption from regulation for underground injections that relate to either the underground storage of natural gas or "the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities." 42 U.S.C. § 300(h) (West). The letter alleges that oil and gas producers have taken advantage of the lack of clarity in the permitting regulations and have continued to use diesel in their hydraulic fracturing fluids. Some producers use diesel fuels because compared to water, diesel has a lower freezing temperature and it more efficient at transporting and delivering propping agents into fractures. The EPA's draft guidance requires the permit application to list whether the diesel is the carrier fluid or an additive and describe the well construction and any potentially impacted areas.
The letter is available here: http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Burwell-OMB-Hydraulic-Fracturing-2013-10-25.pdf
The draft EPA Guidance is available here: http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing/upload/hfdieselfuelsguidance508.pdf
Written by: Tom Panighetti
October 30, 2013