EPA pressures Pa. gas drillers on fracking water disposal

    The Environmental Protection Agency is flexing more of its regulatory muscle over Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry. The EPA is forcing six natural gas companies operating in the state to disclose their wastewater-disposal methods.

    The move may indicate a rift between federal and state regulators.

    The EPA’s directive to gas drillers comes after state regulators asked the industry to voluntarily stop using Pennsylvania’s wastewater-treatment plants. The EPA’s Jon Capacasa says compliance with the federal directive is not optional.

    “EPA wants to insure that the new disposal methods for that wastewater from the natural gas industry are known and accounted for and making sure they’re protective of the public health and the environment,” he said.

    The EPA also contacted the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and requested that Michael Krancer inform federal authorities if wastewater is taken to treatment centers. It also asks DEP to enhance its water testing.

    A DEP representative said Thursday the agency will continue to work with the EPA.

    The former head of DEP John Hanger said the letter to the gas companies and to state regulators marks a more aggressive stance on the part of the EPA. He said it’s an indication that the Democratic administration in Washington does not trust the new Republican administration in Harrisburg.

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