Written Comments for EPA October 9, 2018 Meeting on Oil and Gas Wastewater Management

October 3, 2018

 

Mr. Robert K. Wood

USEPA Headquarters

William Jefferson Clinton Building

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Mail Code: 4303T

Washington, DC 20460

 

Mr. Wood:

The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP) is a non-profit association of approximately 2,600 members that for many decades has been representing independent oil and gas producers in Texas through advocacy, education, and outreach.

The TAEP welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) effort to conduct “a study that will take a holistic look at how the Agency, states, tribes and stakeholders regulate and manage wastewater from the oil and gas industry.”   The TAEP has a keen awareness of the opportunities and challenges that are in front of the federal, state, and local regulators as this topic is investigated. Starting in 2014, the President of the TAEP co-authored a White Paper titled “Sustainable Water Management in the Texas Oil and Gas Industry” which is attached and can also be found at the following web site:

http://texasalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Texas-White-Paper-on-sustainable-Water-Management-by-the-Oil-and-Gas-Industry-July-29-2014.pdf

That paper included two major conclusions that the TAEP recommends be taken into consideration in EPA’s study.  First, “in developing water management policies and regulations, the primary considerations must be local conditions, and how to best encourage recycling and reuse without stifling the oil and gas industry.” Second, “The Texas oil, gas, and water treatment industries are poised to consolidate their gains if legal, regulatory, and economic policies properly align.”

The Texas oil and gas industry has grown significantly since the 2014 White Paper.   Oil production now exceeds 1,000,000,000 barrels of oil per year.  The United States produces approximately 10 million barrels of oil per day and it was reported that as of November 2017, nearly 40 percent came from Texas, which recorded production of 3,891 million barrels per day.

Associated water use has increased, as has the need for successful management of the approximately 7 billion barrels of produced water disposed of every year in Texas through the delegated Underground Injection Control Program.  To address emerging concerns and opportunities for produced water disposition, the TAEP has announced it will publish in the first half of 2019 a new White Paper, entitled: “Sustainable Produced Water Policy, Regulatory Framework, and Management in the Texas Oil and Gas Industry:  2019 and Beyond.”  The TAEP will share its findings with EPA and hopes that the study’s recommendations will be considered in the EPA evaluation process.

In addition, it is TAEP’s firm belief that EPA has an opportunity in its wastewater management study to enhance Texas’s efforts to sustainably manage its produced water through the support of Texas permitting authority under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  This permitting authority is a key example of the type of federal delegation that could and should occur.

The Texas Legislature supports the delegation of federal statutes to the State. In 2017, Texas  Governor Greg Abbot signed into law Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 (attached), which called on “the executive branch and the Congress of the United States to work in conjunction with the State of Texas to identify federal regulations promulgated during the last eight years, especially those promulgated under the authority of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, and the United States Department of Energy, and determine whether they should be revised, delegated to state agencies, or eliminated in order to ease the overly burdensome regulatory patchwork on the oil and gas industry in Texas”.

Federal permitting delegation was further supported by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).  It passed a proposal spearheaded by Texas statewide-elected Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian titled “Pertaining to the “Delegation of Federal Regulatory Authority to State Government Agencies.”   It cited Executive Order 13777 and called for, in the spirit of cooperative federalism, federal agencies to determine whether additional federal regulatory authority should be delegated to the states. The resolution is attached and can also be found at the following URL:

http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/media/45319/christian-resolution-5-9-2018.pdf

The TAEP welcomes the current EPA initiative. This 2,600-member strong organization furthermore pledges to work with the EPA as it evaluates this timely and critical nexus of energy production and produced water as the federal government studies “Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management”.

The Alliance will provide additional comments after participating in the October 9th meeting. Thank you for this opportunity to submit this letter.

 

John Tintera

President, Texas Alliance

1000 West Avenue | Austin, TX 78701

P 512.476.8098 | F 512.478.3676 | M 512.680.3055

texasalliance.org