U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Lackawanna County, has introduced a bill to end an oil and gas exemption to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which was passed back in 1976 establishes standards for proper disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA tracks industrial wastes from “cradle to grave.” But when it comes to the oil and gas industry, as long as the waste water is on the drill site, or in transit, it is not considered hazardous. This also applies to drilling mud.
“Under current federal law, oil and gas companies do not even have to test their waste to see if it is toxic,” said Cartwright in a press release, “leaving us with no way of knowing what is being disposed of and how it is being treated. It is time oil and gas companies comply with existing minimum standards and oversight.”
With no federal oversight of the waste, regulation is left to the states. Cartwright says that has yielded mixed results, and thinks there needs to be one federal standard. The “Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations” Act, or CLEANER, would eliminate the oil and gas exemption. But the bill may have a tough time getting through the Republican controlled House.