Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Support the Review of State Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations
This project was awarded as an interagency agreement to provide assistance with
oil and gas regulatory management decisions.
The goal is to assist oil and gas producing states in identifying innovative
regulatory approaches to reducing environmental and administrative problems
associated with the management of oil and gas industry wastes and to comprehensively
assess and improve implementation and enforcement of state regulatory programs.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, Inc. (STRONGER)
Salt Lake City, UT
Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)
Oklahoma City, OK
American Petroleum Institute (API)
From 1990 through 1997, IOGCC conducted, through a multi-stakeholder process,
voluntary reviews of 17 state regulatory programs for oil and gas exploration
and production (E&P) wastes. The states reviewed were Alaska, Arkansas,
California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, North
Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and
Since 2001, STRONGER has conducted, also through a multi-stakeholder process,
voluntary reviews of three state E&P waste regulatory programs: Indiana,
Michigan, and Virginia.
States' programs are evaluated against a set of guidelines that also were developed
through a multi-stakeholder process. The guidelines are reviewed periodically
and revised to reflect the emergence of additional regulatory issues.
The initial review reports contain recommendations for action to the reviewed
states. The reports also highlight strengths in a state's program. The recommendations,
together with changes in the guidelines and changes in states' programs, provide
the primary basis for follow-up reviews and follow-up recommendations to states.
To date, nine states (California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,
Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming) have had follow-up reviews to assess their
progress in addressing the recommendations from their initial program reviews.
STRONGER also has conducted a second follow-up review of the Pennsylvania program.
The states reviewed to date account for about 85% of the total U.S. onshore
oil and gas wells and 95% of all onshore U.S. production of oil and natural
gas. Many of the follow-up reviews show significant progress on making many
changes recommended by the initial reviews. After reviewing the recommendations
posed in other states' reviews, many states have taken the initiative to make
program changes without the "formality" of an external review. Reviews
of state oil and gas environmental regulatory programs offer an opportunity
for all interested stakeholder groups to provide input and recommendations on
a state's regulatory program. They also provide value to the reviewed programs.
In some cases, recommendations have served as a catalyst for state legislative
changes that have resulted in increased resources and technology improvements
for the regulatory program. Highlighting a program's strengths in program review
reports provides a means for sharing successful ideas among state programs.
Improvements in state regulatory programs enhance protection of human health
and the environment. Voluntary improvements in state regulatory programs negates
the need for federal regulations for E&P waste management.
Through 1980 amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA),
Congress temporarily exempted from hazardous waste regulations under RCRA Subtitle
C drilling fluids, produced water, and wastes associated with oil and gas E&P
pending further study and a regulatory determination. EPA completed its study
and published the results in December 1987 in a report to Congress entitled
Management of Wastes from the Exploration, Development, and Production of Crude
Oil, Natural Gas, and Geothermal Energy. Among other findings, EPA found that
existing State and Federal regulations generally were adequate to manage oil
and gas wastes but that certain regulatory gaps did exist and that enforcement
of existing regulations in some States was inadequate.
In July 1988, EPA issued its regulatory determination 53 FR 25446, stating
that Federal regulation of oil and gas wastes as hazardous wastes was not warranted.
At that time, EPA said it would implement a three-pronged strategy to address
the diverse environmental and programmatic issues posed by these wastes. This
strategy involved: 1) improving Federal programs under existing authorities
in Subtitle D of RCRA, the Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act; 2)
working with States to encourage changes in their regulations and enforcement
to improve some programs; and 3) working with Congress to develop any additional
statutory authorities that may be required. The State Review Process was established
to address the second prong of EPA's strategy, to work with the states to improve
their regulatory programs.
The State Review Process is a multi-stakeholder process administered by STRONGER,
Inc. and is a continuation of work initiated by IOGCC in 1989.
Participation of citizens' groups and environmental organizations in the process
is encouraged, and environmental training seminars are provided to citizens'
groups and others concerned about oil and gas waste management practices.
The project milestones include:
- Development of recommended state E&P waste regulatory program guidelines
through a multi-stakeholder process.
- Reviews of 20 state E&P waste regulatory programs representing 95% of
all U.S. onshore production of oil and natural gas.
- Follow-up reviews of nine state E&P waste regulatory programs.
- Development and implementation of a training program for review team participants.
- Improvements in states' E&P waste regulatory programs.
Current Status (August 2005)
The project is ongoing. The current grant project period expired September 30,
2005. STRONGER has applied for a new grant to continue the project through September
Reports of the reviews are available through IOGCC at http://www.iogcc.state.ok.us/
or STRONGER at http://www.strongerinc.org/.
Project Start: April 4, 2001
Project End: September 30, 2005
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $600,000
Performer Contribution: $175,000 (22 % of total)
NETL - Rhonda Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-699-2037)
EPA - Steve Souders (email@example.com or 703-308-8431)
Logo for State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations