Environmental Conservation Outreach (ECO)
The problem: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a national pretreatment standard for oil and gas waste water discharges. That standard has an exception (40 CFR 435.50-.52) for discharges in the arid West. Where states do not impose higher standards than the federal standard, the exception appears to be allowing significant pollutants into waterways associated with fracking. This is a particular issue on tribal lands where the tribes don't have delegated permitting authority. There is an NPR story that does a good job of giving an overview of the concerns that the exemption is raising on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/15/164688735/loophole-lets-toxic-oil-water-flow-over-indian-land
The project: ELS project participants will conduct research to better understand: 1) how widespread use of this exception is and the extent of the problem and 2) whether it would be feasible and desirable to file a petition with the EPA to change the exception. If project participants determine that it would be desirable to file a petition with the EPA, we will draft and submit the petition in the spring of 2014.