OIG Recommends EPA Action to Manage Potential Hydraulic Fracturing Impacts on Water Resources

On July 16, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report that shares findings from a review evaluating how the EPA and states use existing authorities to regulate the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water.  The report findings are based on a performance audit that included a literature review and interviews with EPA, states, and stakeholders.  This included OIG interviews at EPA Headquarters, three EPA regional offices (3, 6, and 8), and three states (Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Colorado).  During the interviews, OIG asked EPA and states questions about their respective programs that regulate the different stages of unconventional oil and gas development, ongoing initiatives to address potential impacts to water resources, practices observed from industry or implemented by the agency, and their views regarding gaps in regulations.  Based on the review findings, the OIG report recommends that:

  • The EPA Assistant Administrator for Water identify whether primacy states and tribes are issuing permits for the use of diesel fuels as required.
  • The EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance address any compliance issues related to issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels.
  • The EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention establish and publish a plan with milestone dates that outlines all steps for determining whether to propose a rule to obtain information concerning chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing.

EPA has adequately responded to the recommendations by either agreeing with them or proposing actions to address them.   For more information and for questions, please call the OIG public affairs office at 202-566-2391 or visit www.epa.gov/oig.  The full report is available at:  http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2015/20150716-15-P-0204.pdf.

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