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The Aquifer Exemption Program

Executive Summary

A little known provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program allows certain oil and gas and mining activity to occur in groundwater that would otherwise be protected as a drinking water source. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the program in the early days of SDWA implementation to respond to oil and gas interests who cited SDWA language which states that EPA “may not prescribe requirements for state UIC programs which interfere with or impede” the injection of fluids associated with oil and gas production. Extraction proponents argued that certain energy extraction activities would not be able to continue if all underground sources of drinking water everywhere were protected. As a result, an aquifer is now eligible for an exemption if it meets certain regulatory criteria.

Regulating Oil & Gas Activities to Protect Drinking Water

When the U.S. Congress first passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)  in 1974,  it authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a program to protect vital under- ground drinking water resources from risks of industrial activities in which fluid is injected
into the ground. However, Congress also included language mandating that EPA not “interfere with or impede” oil and gas production unless it is “absolutely essential” in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.

The regulatory and legislative history of the SDWA Underground Injection Control Program (UIC) demonstrates the impact of this language on the UIC program’s evolution.

One Step Closer to Protecting All Water

A long overdue proposal to protect most streams and wetlands, released by the Obama administration in March 2014, will ensure that the drinking water for nearly one third of all Americans is no longer at risk of pollution.  Make sure your voice is heard today! President Obama  needs to know that you want to protect our water!

Learn more:

Local Officials Support the Rule to Protect Clean Water

The War on Water Returns

Diverse Voice Speak Out to Protect Clean Water

The Science of Water - Simple and Complex

Click here to speak your mind and tell the President to Protect Clean Water now.

You + Me + Congress = Action on Climate and Energy Legislation!

post by Christine LeMieux, Global Warming and Energy Programs Coordinator

While media headlines as of late are dominated by the latest healthcare happenings on the Hill, progress on climate and energy legislation continues. Both issues are related to critical questions about how we will take care of our public health and our economy in the coming decades. Over the past month, 6 Senate committees have held hearings and action is expected after Congress returns from recess in September. 

Oppose The Enzi Budget (S. Con. Res. 11) & Position On Key Environmental Amendments

ALASKA WILDERNESS LEAGUE * AMERICAN FORESTS * AMERICAN RIVERS * CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY * CLEAN WATER ACTION * DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE * EARTHJUSTICE * EARTHWORKS * ENVIRONMENT AMERICA * ENDANGERED SPECIES COALITION * ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND * FRIENDS OF THE EARTH * GREENPEACE * LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS * NATIONAL
AUDUBON SOCIETY * NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL * OCEANA * OCEAN CONSERVANCY * SIERRA CLUB * SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER * SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE * THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY

March 26, 2015

OPPOSE THE ENZI BUDGET (S. CON. RES. 11) & POSITION ON KEY ENVIRONMENTAL AMENDMENTS

Dear Senator:

Comment Letter on Revised GHG Guidance - 3/25/15

Center for Biological Diversity * Center for Food Safety
Center for International Environmental Law * Clean Water Action * Conservation Colorado Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * EPIC – Environmental Protection Information Center Friends of the Bitterroot * Friends of the Earth * Grand Canyon Trust * Greenpeace Information Network for Responsible Mining * Klamath Forest Alliance * KyotoUSA League of Conservation Voters * Montana Environmental Information Center
National Wildlife Federation * Natural Resources Defense Council * Oregon Wild

Oppose Portman Amendment 396 to S. Con Res 11 - 3/25/15

Center for Biological Diversity * Clean Water Action * Earthjustice * Environment America Environmental Defense Fund * Environmental Law and Policy Center * Fresh Energy Friends of the Earth * GreenLatinos * IDEAS For Us * Interfaith Power and Light
League of Conservation Voters * Natural Resources Defense Council * Public Citizen * Sierra Club
Southern Environmental Law Center * WE ACT for Environmental Justice * Voces Verdes


March 25, 2015 (Download the PDF here)

Oppose Amendment No. 347 to Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, setting the budget for FY 2016

● Alaska Wilderness League ● American Rivers ● Bluegreen Alliance ● Clean Water Action
● Defenders of Wildlife ● Earthjustice ● Friends of the Earth ● Greenpeace
● League of Conservation Voters ● Natural Resources Defense Council ● Sierra Club
● Southern Environmental Law Center

March 24, 2015

Dear Senator:

Please Oppose House and Senate FY16 Budget Resolutions - March 23, 2015

ALASKA WILDERNESS LEAGUE • AMERICAN BIRD CONSERVANCY • AMERICAN FORESTS • AMERICAN RIVERS • CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY • CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT • CLEAN WATER ACTION • CONSERVATION COLORADO • CONSERVATIVES FOR RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP • DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE • EARTHJUSTICE • ENDANGERED SPECIES COALITION • ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND • ENVIRONMENT AMERICA • EPIC-ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION INFORMATION CENTER • FRIENDS OF THE EARTH • KENTUCKY ENVIRONMENTAL FOUNDATION • KLAMATH FOREST ALLIANCE • LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS • LOS PADRES FORESTWATCH • MONTANA ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

BLM Releases Long Awaited Fracking Rule: More Could Be Done to Lead in Protecting Water Resources and Our Public Lands

Today the Department of Interior released the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rule on Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Tribal Lands. The rule is a long awaited and much needed update to decades-old BLM regulations for oil and gas development.

The rule includes some important provisions that exceed most state protections including moving away from wastewater disposal in open unlined pits.  BLM also strengthened well construction requirements to prevent well failures that lead to leakage of methane and other potential contaminants. 
Published On: 
03/20/2015 - 11:09
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