The Environmental Protection Agency has just announced its plans to establish new wastewater disposal rules for shale gas drilling and coalbed methane. The announcement comes on the same day the EPA is scheduled to testify before a Senate hearing on fracking.
Currently, wastewater associated with shale gas extraction is prohibited from being directly discharged to waterways and other waters of the U.S. While some of the wastewater from shale gas extraction is reused or re-injected, a significant amount still requires disposal. As a result, some shale gas wastewater is transported to treatment plants, many of which are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater. EPA will consider standards based on demonstrated, economically achievable technologies, for shale gas wastewater that must be met before going to a treatment facility.
Drillers in Pennsylvania had been sending much of their wastewater to poorly equipped municipal treatment centers until the Department of Environmental Protection asked them to stop last April.