Energy Exchange

Texas forms new group to weigh pros, cons of repurposing oilfield wastewater

Some Texas leaders and oil and gas industry advocates have for years promoted the idea that produced water — the wastewater generated through oil and gas development — has a role to play in meeting broad water needs in our state. However, the state has a limited understanding of the chemicals in this wastewater and how programs to reuse it outside the oilfield could be practiced safely, if at all.

Acknowledging the necessity to better understand treatment needs, economic challenges, and public health and environmental risks of industry’s wastewater, the Texas Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 601, establishing a Texas Produced Water Consortium. The consortium will be housed at Texas Tech University, and will bring together a wide swath of agency advisors, technical experts and key stakeholders to consider these issues and produce a report with recommendations over the next year. The group is charged with suggesting legal and regulatory changes to better enable beneficial uses, identifying pilot projects and assessing the economics of using produced water both efficiently but also in a way that protects public health and the environment.

Answering these questions will be no easy feat, and Texas should definitely not encourage beneficial reuse until it can confidently answer tough questions about safety.

Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. States engage in a process of continuous improvement by adopting new rules and practices as technologies and risk mitigation techniques evolve — even in an extraordinary year like 2020. EDF tracks state trends in oil and gas regulation related to the protection of land, water and local communities, reporting notable state actions each year.

2020 presented multiple challenges for the oil and gas industry and state regulators, including the twin shocks of an OPEC price war and a steep decline in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, many states showed strong commitment to ensuring environmental integrity by adopting critical new rules across a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2020.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

Two chemicals that remind us why we should exercise caution with the oil industry’s wastewater

Over the past few years, we’ve written a lot about the wastewater generated from oil and gas production — specifically, how little is known about what’s in it and the potential risks of exposure.

But as states try to set standards for how to safely treat and dispose of this waste, there are two chemicals in particular that deserve to be among the regulatory priorities.

The first is a class of synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — PFAS for short. Members of this class, often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are highly persistent in the environment, are known to cause adverse health impacts in humans. This can include a range of symptoms, including damage to the immune system, low infant birth weights and cancer.

The second chemical is 1,4-dioxane. Short-term exposure to this carcinogen can cause immediate health impacts, like eye, nose and throat irritation and impaired lung function. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage, as well as cancer.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas / Language: / Comments are closed

Clean water regulators at the brink — Changes to the Clean Water Act spell trouble for New Mexico

Earlier this year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its proposal to dismantle significant portions of the Clean Water Act. Historic federal protections for some rivers and streams and wetlands will no longer be there — essentially allowing polluters to dump untold amounts of waste into our waterways unless state provisions stop them.

The decision could generate unknown repercussions to waterways across the country, and perhaps no state is more vulnerable than New Mexico.

The reason? New Mexico has very few surface water protections of its own, which means without federal standards, the state is facing an uphill battle to develop the tools it needs in order to step in and prevent polluters from contaminating water.

Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas, New Mexico, produced water / Tagged | Language: / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

By Adam Peltz and Nichole Saunders

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. As we learn more about technical advancements in the oilfield as well as risks from various aspects of production, it is vital that the regulations requiring best practices are kept up to date.

EDF believes this process of continuous improvement is foundational for protecting land, water and communities from development-related impacts. That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis. Building on our review of state progress toward this goal in 2018, we’ve gathered up the big changes states made this past year and assessed the trends.

Here are the big things we saw in 2019.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged | Language: / Comments are closed

New Mexico legislation marks new focus on improved oil and gas oversight under Gov. Lujan Grisham

By Jon Goldstein and Nichole Saunders

When New Mexico legislators adjourned last Saturday, they had a long list of accomplishments for the first session under Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive leadership. Near the top of that list is a bill that, once signed, will mark the first major legislative reform for the state’s oil and gas industry in over a decade.

House Bill 546 has significant implications for how the state oversees its large and growing oil and gas industry. This includes restoring crucial powers to the state’s main oil and gas regulator and enabling it to protect the state’s air and water resources from oil and gas pollution, as well as clarifying how New Mexico manages the massive volume of oilfield wastewater, or “produced water,” generated by operators. These reforms, championed by Sen. Richard Martinez, Rep. Nathan Small and Rep. Matthew McQueen will begin to deliver oil and gas policy that New Mexicans can be proud of.

Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas, New Mexico, produced water / Tagged , | Language: / Comments are closed