EPA has proposed to amend the rule on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System storm water permits to postpone until June 12, 2006, the requirement to obtain permit coverage for oil and gas construction activity that disturbs one to five acres of land. This would be the second postponement promulgated by EPA for these activities. EPA proposes this postponement in order to afford the Agency additional time to complete consideration of the issues raised by stakeholders about storm water runoff from construction activities at oil and gas sites and of procedures for controlling storm water discharges as appropriate to mitigate impacts on water quality.
Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before February 17, 2005 (docket ID No. OW-2002-0068). EPA intends to take final action with respect to this proposal by March 10, 2005.
Within six months of this final action (September 12, 2005), EPA intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register for addressing these discharges and invite public comments. During the next fifteen months, EPA intends to (1) complete the economic impact analysis; (2) complete the evaluation of the legal and procedural implications associated with several options that the Agency is considering with regard to regulation of storm water discharges from oil and gas-related construction sites; (3) continue to evaluate practices and methods operators may employ to control storm water discharges from the sites affected by this proposal. EPA intends to convene at least one public meeting with various stakeholders for the purpose of exchanging information on current industry practices and the effectiveness of those practices in protecting water quality and obtaining input on the appropriate approach for addressing construction storm water discharges from this industry. Finally, EPA expects to propose and take some subsequent final action based on the Agency’s conclusions following these activities.
EPA believes that further postponing the date for NPDES regulation is appropriate for these sources because the Agency needs additional time to complete its evaluation of the economic and legal issues that have been raised. Moreover, EPA is continuing to evaluate procedures and methods for controlling storm water discharges from these sources as appropriate to mitigate impacts on water quality. In the meantime, EPA strongly recommends that operators consider employing the BMPs (Best Management Practices) described on the Agency’s NPDES storm water Web site at: cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/menuofbmps/con_site.cfm.