Surprisingly, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a lobby largely for small, independent drillers, did not oppose the move, "noting the standards will be added to existing Clean Water Act standards and be enforced by states," Soraghan reports. But the American Petroleum Institute, dominated by major companies, "reacted coolly to the idea, noting it already has standards and state regulators can also regulate wastewater."
Soraghan notes, "EPA became alarmed last year by the practice of some drillers in the Northeast, particularly in Pennsylvania, of sending their wastewater to sewage-treatment plants unequipped to handle the salts and sometimes even radioactive material in the waste." Cynthia Dougherty, director of EPA's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, told a Senate subcommittee today that drilling wastewater can inhibit such treatment plants' ability to treat sewage. "West Virginia has already banned disposal of brine in publicly owned treatment works," Soraghan notes. (Read more, subscription required)