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USEPA Revises Permitting Guidance for Using Diesel Fuel in Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing

oil rigThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently released its revised underground injection control (UIC) program permitting guidance for wells that use diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing activities. USEPA developed the guidance to clarify how companies can comply with a law Congress passed back 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 guidance is being issued alongside an interpretive memorandum, which clarifies that Class II UIC requirements apply to hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel fuels, and defines the statutory term diesel fuel by reference to five chemical abstract services registry numbers. The guidance outlines for USEPA permit writers, where USEPA is the permitting authority, existing Class II requirements for diesel fuels used for hydraulic fracturing wells, and technical recommendations for permitting those wells consistently with these requirements. 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 guidance as a basis for decision.

Although developed specifically for hydraulic fracturing where diesel fuels are used, many of the recommended practices included in the guidance are consistent with best practices for hydraulic fracturing, including those found in State regulations and model guidelines developed by industry and stakeholders. Therefore, States and Tribes responsible for issuing permits and/or updating regulations for hydraulic fracturing may find the recommendations useful in improving the protection of underground sources of drinking water and public health more broadly.



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