Drinking Water: EPA Needs to Collect Information and Consistently Conduct Activities to Protect Underground Sources of Drinking Water

US Government Accountability Office

[Sidley Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing ReportGAO report asserts that the EPA oversight of underground injection of oil and gas wastewater is insufficient. A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report claims that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not gathering sufficient information to protect underground sources of drinking water from Class II underground injection wells. Class II wells are used to inject wastewater, primarily salt water, associated with oil and gas production. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA oversees approved state-run Class II programs and directly operates Class II programs in states without approved programs. The GAO report argues that EPA has failed to both collect enough well-specific data from inspections and to conduct inspections rigorously enough to ensure that it can take appropriate enforcement actions in this area. The report recommends that EPA clarify existing agency guidance on data reporting, require reporting of well-specific data by state-run Class II programs and conduct a human resources evaluation to see if it needs to devote additional resources to Class II issues.


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