EPA has postponed until June 12, 2006, the requirement to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit coverage for oil and gas construction activity that disturbs one to five acres of land. This is the second postponement promulgated by EPA for these activities. This postponement will allow the Agency additional time to complete its analysis of the issues raised by stakeholders about storm water runoff from construction activities at oil and gas sites and of practices and methods for controlling these storm water discharges to mitigate impacts on water quality, as appropriate. Within six months of March 9, 2005, EPA intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register for addressing these discharges and to 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; and (3) continue to evaluate practices and methods operators may employ to control storm water discharges from the sites affected by this rule. One of the issues EPA will be examining during this period is how best to resolve questions posed by outside parties regarding section 402(l)(2) of the Clean Water Act, which exempts certain storm water discharges from oil and gas exploration, production, processing, or treatment operations or transmission facilities from NPDES permit requirements. EPA intends to convene at least one public meeting with 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. EPA will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register with information about this public meeting. Finally, EPA expects to propose and take some subsequent final action based on the Agency’s conclusions following these activities prior to June 12, 2006.
Entities potentially affected by this action include operators of construction activities disturbing at least one acre, but less than five acres of land at oil and gas sites, North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes and titles: 211-Oil and Gas Extraction, 213111-Drilling Oil and Gas Wells, and 213112-Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations. EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. OW-2002-0068.