EPA Issues Final Report on Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued its final report addressing the input received by various stakeholders relating to the management of wastewater from the oil and gas industry. The report entitled Summary of Input on Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Practices Under the Clean Water Act is the culmination of a stakeholder engagement process that began in 2018 (“Final Report”) . As we have reported on periodically , EPA initiated the study to gain a better understanding of existing produced water management and disposal options and evaluate any potential need for additional surface water discharge options under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) for produced water, large volumes of which are disposed of in underground injection wells. The Final Report summarizes the input received to date, but it leaves to a later date any announcement of measures that may be undertaken by EPA to address produced water management options under the CWA.
The Final Report includes a summary of the major themes of comments provided by various stakeholders including state agencies, the oil and gas industry, academia, tribes, and non-governmental organizations, and notes that expressions of both support and concern for expanding discharge opportunities were received during the engagement process. The summary in the Final Report largely tracks the summary included in the EPA draft report issued in May of 2019 . While produced water volumes will likely be affected due to the current market conditions being experienced by the oil and gas sector, the considerations relevant to the expansion of opportunities for reuse of this water source, particularly in water-scarce areas of the country, remain.
 A copy of the Final Report is available at https://www.epa.gov/eg/final-report-oil-and-gas-extraction-wastewater-management
 See Draft Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Under the Clean Water Act (May 2019) and Expanded Produced Water Options – On the Horizon at https://www.huntonnickelreportblog.com/2019/05/expanded-produced-water-discharge-options-on-the-horizon/