gas industry gets two-year break from storm water permits
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Heilprin, Associated Press
WASHINGTON Developers of oil and gas sites across the country will have at least two more
years before they are required to get new storm water permits intended to protect fish, wildlife, and people.
A Clinton administration regulation
went into effect on Monday, expanding the storm water permitting program to construction sites that disturb 1 to 5 acres.
But the Environmental Protection Agency said it was postponing the requirements for oil and gas construction until
March 2005 because it wants more time to evaluate the impacts on the industry.
The permits were intended to help prevent
contamination of storm water runoff from small areas used for oil and gas exploration and production. They also would have
applied to the smaller pipelines that move oil and gas from the wells to batteries, processing facilities, and storage tanks
in the field and then feed into the major transmission pipelines.
Bush administration officials said the Clinton-era
EPA had assumed that few, if any, oil and gas sites or pipelines would be affected. But they said that since 1999, when EPA
published a final rule expanding the program, the agency has learned that close to 30,000 oil and gas sites per year may have
to comply with the new storm water regulations.
In a February letter, five Senate Democrats and Sen. James Jeffords,
I-Vt., urged EPA Administrator Christie Whitman not to delay permitting. They said it was unfair to the 5,000 communities
that will have to comply. "While thousands of small communities struggle ... the oil and gas industry gets a break. Delaying
compliance for one industrial sector is not justified," Jeffords said.