On July 28, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final approval of Michigan’s request to assume the authority to regulate Class II underground injection wells under the federal underground injection control program (UIC). Class II wells serve three main purposes. They are used to inject back underground the fluids, such as briny wastewater, that are brought to the surface in conjunction with oil and natural gas production. They are also used to inject liquid hydrocarbons into underground formations for storage purposes, and for injecting fluid containing diesel fuel into the ground during hydraulic fracturing. The UIC program is a set of federal regulations established under the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect underground sources of drinking water.
As a result of the EPA’s action, oil and gas wells in Michigan will no longer be subject to duplicative state and federal regulations. Instead, permitting and enforcement of environmental requirements for these operations will be done by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) under Part 615 of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. The EPA will retain certain supervisory authorities, but this approval should significantly lessen the regulatory burden on oil and gas well owners and operators in Michigan. The state’s assumption of UIC authority will become effective August 29, 2022.
For more information on this change or how it may impact you, please contact Dennis Donohue or your Warner Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Practice Group attorney.