News Feature | December 10, 2013

Water Ranks High On EPA Agenda For 2014

By Sara Jerome

EPA
EPA

The EPA has released its agenda for 2014, and water policy figures prominently on the list.

"Despite considerable progress, America's waters remain imperiled. Water quality protection programs face complex challenges, from nutrient loadings and stormwater runoff to invasive species and drinking water contaminants. These challenges demand both traditional and innovative strategies," the agency said in its statement of priorities. 

The agency is looking at ways to regulate the water used by fracking companies, according to an analysis of the agenda by Bloomberg BNA. 

"The agency anticipates publishing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in August 2014 under the Toxic Substances Control Act's sections 8(a) and 8(d) to obtain data on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing," the report said. 

The EPA will “initiate a stakeholder process to provide input on the design and scope of the TSCA reporting requirements that would be included in a proposed rule,” BNA said. The EPA expects states, industry, public interest groups and members of the public will participate in the process.

The proceeding would allow the EPA to “weigh in on whether oil and gas drilling companies should be required to disclose which chemicals they inject into the ground during fracking," Mother Jones explained.

Environmentalists have already been pressuring fracking companies to reveal this information, "saying otherwise there's no way of judging the risk to groundwater," the report said. 

Other water issues on the EPA's 2014 regulatory agenda include stormwater, water quality, cool water intake structures, steam electric power plants, and the definition of the term "Waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act.

Regulatory confusion surrounding that term has prompted the agency to try to define it through rulemaking. Its efforts toward doing so, begun this year, were met by a storm of controversy. 

Republicans see it as "a massive regulatory power grab under the Clean Water Act,” as Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) put it.

For more on that rulemaking, visit Water Online. 

Image credit: "EPA Steam Electric Hearing," © 2013 The Sierra Club, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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