Regulation of oil and gas exploration and production wastes and of Class II injection wells (those that inject produced brines and drilling fluids) could become more rigorous in the next several years. First, many of the wastes associated with oil and gas activities, including those disposed in Class II wells, may come under increased regulatory control. Presently, most oil and gas wastes are "exempted" from the severe requirements of the hazardous waste regulatory program. Other wastes from exploration and production activities, however, are not exempted and may potentially be subject to hazardous waste regulation. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently "clarified" the scope of this exemption with respect to wastes associated with crude oil reclaimers, service companies, and gas plants and feeder pipelines. Moreover, Congress has been debating the reauthorization of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (the federal hazardous waste management statute), and one of the key issues is whether oil and gas wastes should be subjected to further regulatory control. In addition, the Railroad Commission of Texas has draft proposed rules on regulation of hazardous oil and gas wastes, which will impose additional regulatory standards and controls over such wastes. Second, EPA has been considering changes to the Class II injection well program. An Advisory Committee was assembled and was composed of representatives of major and independent oil companies, environmental interests, and state and federal regulators. The EPA has evaluated the Committee's recommendations and has drafted a proposal for additional Class II regulations. The draft proposal includes tough new construction requirements for newly drilled or converted Class II wells; added monitoring and testing requirements; and additional area of review requirements that would apply to both new and existing wells. The EPA may formally propose these rules in the Spring of 1994, and they could be finalized by Summer 1995.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.