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Final Rule for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Oil and Gas Field Operations

June 08, 2006

Final Rule for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Oil and Gas Field Operations

EPA has finalized changes to its stormwater regulations as they apply to field operations, including construction activities, at oil and gas exploration, production, processing or treatment operations or transmission facilities. This final action codifies changes resulting from Clean Water Act amendments in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 signed by the President on August 8, 2005. The Administrator of EPA signed the final rule on June 7, 2006 which was published in the Federal Register, and is effective on June 12, 2006. You can view the rule and a descriptive Fact Sheet at http://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/oilgas.

The final rule specifies that stormwater discharges from oil and gas-related construction activities are exempt from NPDES permit coverage, except in very limited instances. EPA interprets this exclusion to apply to construction of drilling sites, waste management pits, and access roads, as well as construction of the transportation and treatment infrastructure such as pipelines, natural gas treatment plants, natural gas pipeline compressor stations, and crude oil pumping stations. Construction activities that result in a discharge of a reportable quantity release or that contribute pollutants (other than non-contaminated sediment from construction) to a violation of a water quality standard are still subject to permit coverage. This final action also adds complementary text encouraging operators of oil and gas field activities or operations to implement and maintain Best Management Practices (BMPs) to minimize erosion and control sediment during and after construction activities to help ensure protection of surface water quality during storm events. This rulemaking applies to all States, Federal lands and Indian Country regardless of whether EPA or a State is the NPDES permitting authority. However, this rule is not intended to interfere with the States' authority to regulate any discharges, pursuant to state law, through a non-NPDES permit program.

 

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