[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 91 (Thursday, May 10, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27451-27456]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11288]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[EPA-OW-EPA-HQ-OW-2011-1013; FRL-9671-1]


Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing 
Activities Using Diesel Fuels--Draft: Underground Injection Control 
Program Guidance 84

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Request for Comment on Draft Guidance Document.

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SUMMARY: EPA is taking comment on a draft document that describes 
Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program guidance for permitting the 
underground injection of oil- and gas-related hydraulic fracturing (HF) 
using diesel fuels where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
is the permitting authority. The draft guidance includes EPA's 
interpretation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and regulations 
regarding UIC permitting of oil and gas hydraulic fracturing operations 
using diesel fuels as a fracturing fluid or as a component of a 
fracturing fluid, specifically that they are subject to Class II UIC 
permitting requirements. EPA's goal is to provide greater regulatory 
clarity and certainty to the industry, which will in turn improve 
compliance with the SDWA requirements and strengthen environmental 
protections consistent with existing law. The draft guidance will not 
impose any new requirements. See Supporting Information section.

DATES: EPA will consider comments received on or before July 9, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2011-1013 by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
     Email: OW-Docket@epa.gov@epa.gov.
     Mail: Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic 
Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels--Draft, Environmental 
Protection Agency, Mailcode: 4606M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., 
Washington, DC 20460.
     Hand Delivery: Office of Water (OW) Docket, EPA/DC, EPA 
West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. Such 
deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of 
operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of 
boxed information.
    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-

[[Page 27452]]

1013. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in 
the public docket without change and may be made available online at 
www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through www.regulations.gov. The 
www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous access'' system, which 
means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you 
provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment 
directly to EPA without going through www.regulations.gov your email 
address will be automatically captured and included as part of the 
comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the 
Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you 
include your name and other contact information in the body of your 
comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your 
comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for 
clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic 
files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of 
encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional 
information about EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center 
homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm.
    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the 
www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some 
information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information 
whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such 
as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in hard copy. 
Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically 
in www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the OW Docket, EPA/DC, EPA 
West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public 
Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public 
Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OW 
Docket is (202) 566-2426.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chitra Kumar, Underground Injection 
Control Program, Drinking Water Protection Division, Office of Ground 
Water and Drinking Water (MC-4606M), Environmental Protection Agency, 
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 
(202) 564-2232; email address: kumar.chitra@epa.gov. For general 
information, visit the Underground Injection Control Program's 
Hydraulic Fracturing and the Safe Drinking Water Act Web site, http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing/hydraulic-fracturing.cfm.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

A. Does this action apply to me?

    Underground injection of fluids through wells is subject to the 
requirements of the SDWA except where specifically excluded by the 
statute. In the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EP Act), Congress revised the 
SDWA definition of ``underground injection'' to specifically exclude 
from UIC regulation the ``underground injection of fluids or propping 
agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing 
operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities'' 
(SDWA Section 1421(d)(1)(B)). UIC regulations further provide that 
``[a]ny underground injection, except into a well authorized by rule or 
except as authorized by permit issued under the UIC program, is 
prohibited'' (40 CFR 144.11). Thus, owners or operators who inject 
diesel fuels during HF related to oil, gas, or geothermal operations 
must obtain a UIC permit before injection begins. While the EP Act 
references HF related to geothermal activities, the draft guidance only 
covers hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels related to oil and gas 
activities. Permits for oil and gas HF using diesel fuels are available 
through the UIC Class II Program, the well class for oil and gas 
activities.\1\
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    \1\ Geothermal activities are not considered Class II.
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    The guidance provides information on SDWA UIC Class II requirements 
and recommendations for permitting hydraulic fracturing injection wells 
where diesel fuels are used in fluids or propping agents. The guidance 
is intended for EPA permit writers and, as a result, is relevant where 
EPA directly implements the UIC Class II program. Implementation of the 
UIC Program may be carried out by EPA Regions, or by states, tribes, or 
territories, depending on whether a state has received primary 
enforcement responsibility (primacy) approval from EPA to implement the 
UIC Program (Reference to ``states'' includes tribes and territories 
pursuant to 40 CFR 144.3). To the extent that states may choose to 
follow some aspects of EPA guidance in implementing their own programs, 
it may also be relevant in areas where EPA is not the permitting 
authority. Information on states that have primacy is available at 
http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/Primacy.cfm.
    Recommendations in this draft guidance may change based on the 
comments we receive on the draft publication and this will be reflected 
in the final guidance. EPA understands that a permit writer who 
receives a permit application in the interim period before this 
guidance is finalized will have to make decisions about how to permit 
diesel fuels hydraulic fracturing wells. While this guidance undergoes 
public notice and comment, EPA expects that decisions about permitting 
hydraulic fracturing operations that use diesel fuels will be made on a 
case-by-case basis, considering the facts and circumstances of the 
specific injection activity and applicable statutes, regulations and 
case law, and will not cite to this draft guidance as a basis for 
decision.
    Decisions made regarding a particular permit will be based on the 
applicable statutes, regulations, and case law, and at times may differ 
from the recommendations described in this guidance. Thus, this 
document will not impose legally binding requirements and will not be 
implemented as binding in practice; nor will it impose any obligations 
on private parties. Legally binding requirements for injection wells 
are found at 40 CFR Parts 124 and 144 through 148.
    EPA UIC permit writers reviewing diesel fuels HF permit 
applications should refer to the provisions at 40 CFR Parts 124 and 144 
through 147 as they make permitting decisions. This guidance does not 
substitute for UIC Class II regulations and is not itself a regulation. 
EPA focused on specific topics in this guidance, which are useful for 
tailoring Class II requirements to the unique attributes of hydraulic 
fracturing when diesel fuels are used.
    The technical topics covered in the draft guidance include: A 
description of diesel fuels; authorizing multiple wells through area 
permits; establishing a permit duration and applying UIC well closure 
requirements; considerations for application submission and review; 
determining an area of review; permit application materials; well 
construction requirements for both newly constructed and already 
constructed wells; operation, mechanical integrity, monitoring and 
reporting requirements; applicable financial responsibility 
requirements; and public notification and environmental justice 
considerations.

[[Page 27453]]

B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit this information to EPA through 
www.regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the 
information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or 
CD-ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM as 
CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the 
specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one 
complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as 
CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information 
claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. 
Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with 
procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.
    2. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, 
remember to:
     Identify the guidance by docket number and other 
identifying information (subject heading, Federal Register date and 
page number).
     Follow directions--The agency may ask you to respond to 
specific questions or organize comments by referencing a Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR) part or section number.
     Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives 
and substitute language for your requested changes.
     Describe any assumptions and provide any technical 
information and/or data that you used.
     If you estimate potential costs or burdens, explain how 
you arrived at your estimate in sufficient detail to allow for it to be 
reproduced.
     Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and 
suggest alternatives.
     Explain your views as clearly as possible, avoiding the 
use of profanity or personal threats.
     Make sure to submit your comments by the comment period 
deadline identified.
    3. Request for Comment:
    EPA has decided to seek public input on the draft guidance because 
of the importance of the guidance to its Federal and state partners, to 
the regulated community, and to the public. Additionally, EPA believes 
considering and receiving public input will ensure that the guidance 
adequately addresses remaining questions raised about permitting HF 
using diesel fuels. This public comment opportunity will be available 
until July 9, 2012. Although the Administrative Procedure Act 
requirements for notice and comment do not apply, EPA will consider 
significant public comments and will address significant issues raised 
by the public when the final guidance is issued.
    EPA will provide the final version of the guidance to permit 
writers where EPA is the UIC permitting authority. EPA expects that the 
interpretation and recommendations in the final guidance may also be 
useful to state permit writers.
    EPA requests that commenters focus their comments on the following 
issues, as this will be most helpful to the Agency and facilitate 
efficient consideration of comments.
a. Diesel Fuels Description
    1. The draft guidance recommends using six Chemical Abstracts 
Service Registry Numbers (CASRNs) as the basis for determining whether 
diesel fuels are used as fluids or propping agents pursuant to 
hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil or gas production 
activities. The draft guidance, directed toward EPA UIC permit writers, 
recommends considering whether any portion of the injectate has the 
following CASRNs, or is referred to by any of their associated common 
synonyms, some of which are provided as follows:
68334-30-5 Primary Name: Fuels, Diesel
    Common Synonyms: Automotive diesel oil; Diesel fuel; Diesel oil 
(petroleum); Diesel oils; Diesel test fuel; Diesel fuels; Diesel Fuel 
No. 1; Diesel fuel [United Nations-North America (UN/NA) number 1993]; 
Diesel fuel oil; European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical 
Substances 269-822-7.
68476-34-6 Primary Name: Fuels, Diesel, No. 2
    Common Synonyms: Diesel Fuel No. 2; Diesel fuels no. 2; EINECS 270-
676-1, No. 2 Diesel Fuel
68476-30-2 Primary Name: Fuel Oil No. 2
    Common Synonyms: Diesel fuel; Gas oil or diesel fuel or heating 
oil, light [UN1202] 2 Home heating oils; API No. 2 fuel oil; 
EINECS 270-671-4; Fuel Oil No. 2; Home heating oil No. 2; Number 2 
burner fuel; Distillate fuel oils, light; Fuel No. 2; Fuel oil (No. 1, 
2, 4, 5 or 6) [NA1993];
68476-31-3 Primary Name: Fuel Oil, No. 4
    Common Synonyms: Caswell No. 333AB (A Caswell No. is an 
alphanumeric chemical identifier implemented by Robert L. Caswell in 
the 1960s and 1970s in conjunction with acceptable common names of 
pesticides names for labeling purposes); Cat cracker feed stock; EINECS 
270-673-5; EPA Pesticide Chemical Code 063514; Fuel oil No. 4; Diesel 
Fuel No. 4
8008-20-6 Primary Name: Kerosene
    Common Synonyms: JP-5 navy fuel/marine diesel fuel; Deodorized 
kerosene; JP5 Jet fuel; AF 100 (Pesticide); Caswell No. 517; EINECS 
232-366-4; EPA Pesticide Chemical Code 063501; Fuel oil No. 1; Fuels, 
kerosine; Shell 140; Shellsol 2046; Distillate fuel oils, light; 
Kerosene, straight run; Kerosine, (petroleum); Several Others
68410-00-4 Primary Name: Distillates (Petroleum), Crude Oil
    Common Synonyms: Fuel, diesel (VDF) (U.S. EPA Substance Registry 
System), Straight PWN diesel (EPA SRS), Aruba gas oil; EINECS 270-072-
8.
    Based on the six listed CASRNs, a review of data available on the 
voluntary hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure Web site, FracFocus 
(http://www.Fracfocus.org), in early August, 2011, suggested that 
approximately 2% of wells that hydraulically fracture would be subject 
to SDWA UIC permitting requirements in states where EPA administers the 
UIC Program. This estimate is necessarily approximate due to data 
limitations. In addition, EPA is aware that operational practices are 
rapidly evolving in this industry, and past practice with regard to the 
use of diesel fuels may not be reflective of future practice.
    EPA selected these six CASRNs because either their primary name, or 
their common synonyms, contained the term ``diesel fuel'' and they meet 
the chemical and physical properties of ``diesel fuel,'' as provided in 
the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory.\2\ The TSCA 
description reads as follows:
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    \2\ TSCA Inventory Reporting Rule established the TSCA Inventory 
which now includes the identities of over 83,000 chemical 
substances.

    Diesel fuel is a complex combination of hydrocarbons produced by 
the distillation of crude oil. It consists of hydrocarbons having 
carbon numbers predominantly in the range of C9 through C20 and 
boiling in the range of approximately 163 [deg]C to 357 [deg]C (325 
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[deg]F to 675 [deg]F).

    While this description provided in the guidance was derived from a 
particular CASRN in the TSCA Inventory, a number of chemical compounds 
could

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meet these characteristics, including all of the compounds included in 
the recommended list of CASRNs. These CASRNs are commonly identified as 
diesel fuels by other industry and regulatory applications, as well.
    Alternative Descriptions: EPA also reviewed a number of alternative 
descriptions, as follows:
    A. Diesel fuel is:
     A complex combination of hydrocarbons produced by the 
distillation of crude oil or the processing of other petroleum-derived 
hydrocarbons; and
     Having a carbon number range of C9 to C20; and
     Having a boiling point range of 163 degrees Centigrade 
([deg]C) to 357 [deg]C (325 degrees Fahrenheit ([deg]F) to 675 [deg]F); 
and
     Could be used to run a diesel engine;
    or
     Has any of the CASRNs, 68334-30-5, 68476-30-2, 68476-31-3, 
68476-34-6, 8008-20-6, or 68410-00-4.
    To address the possibility that permit requirements could be 
avoided for substances that are essentially the same as the diesel 
fuels description provided in the guidance even if they are not known 
by the name ``diesel fuels,'' EPA considered this diesel fuels 
description consisting of the chemical, physical, and use-based 
attributes of diesel fuels along with a list of CASRNs. One such 
compound, which does not have the synonym, ``diesel fuels,'' but has 
the same chemical and physical characteristics of diesel fuels and 
could be used to run a diesel engine, is CASRN 64741-44-2, Distillates 
(petroleum), Straight run middle; Gas oil; Gas oil, blend, EINECS 265-
044-7. EPA also recognizes that new compounds are regularly introduced 
into the market and may meet the physical and chemical criteria of this 
TSCA description, and may or may not contain the words ``diesel fuels'' 
in the primary name or any of its synonyms.
    This description does not correspond solely to a specific set of 
CAS Registry Numbers. Thus, under this approach, EPA is not able to 
estimate the number of oil and gas wells that hydraulically fracture 
that would be subject to UIC permitting requirements in states where 
EPA is the permitting authority.
    B. Diesel fuel is a complex combination of hydrocarbons produced by 
the distillation of crude oil or the processing of other petroleum-
derived hydrocarbons, having a carbon number range within C9 to C20 and 
a boiling point range within 163[deg] to 357 [deg]C (325 [deg]F to 675 
[deg]F) and that may contain impurities, or are otherwise identified as 
diesel fuel. This approach would cover a greater number of CASRNs than 
the recommended description. EPA is not recommending this approach 
because it would include some compounds that are not suitable to run in 
a diesel engine, which is a consideration in several of the existing 
descriptions of diesel fuels that EPA reviewed.
    C. Diesel fuel is a complex combination of hydrocarbons produced by 
the distillation of crude oil or the processing of other petroleum-
derived hydrocarbons, having carbon numbers predominately in the range 
of C9 to C20 and a boiling point range of approximately 163 degrees 
[deg]C to 357 [deg]C (325 degrees [deg]F to 675 [deg]F) and that may 
contain impurities. Under this description diesel fuels include any 
petroleum derived substance with CASRN's that overlap the diesel fuel 
predominant carbon range or boiling point range, or are otherwise 
identified as diesel fuel. This approach would cover a much greater 
number of CASRNs than the recommended description. EPA is not 
recommending this approach because it would include many compounds that 
are not suitable to run in a diesel engine, and would be challenging 
for permit writers and applicants to implement, based on the common 
methods of determining the composition of fracturing fluids.

Questions Related to the Diesel Fuels Description

    Do the six CASRNs in the recommended description adequately 
describe diesel fuels? If not, what other factors should be considered 
in the definition? Are there additional CASRNs that should be included? 
Are there any among the six that do not belong? Please address the 
relative importance of having a description that is static and 
unchanged versus capturing new chemical compounds being developed that 
are substantially similar to the six recommended CASRNs.
     Would a description based on chemical, physical and use-
based attributes, such as the five-consideration alternative EPA 
considered in (i), more adequately and appropriately characterize 
diesel fuels in a manner that prevents endangerment of human health and 
underground sources of drinking water on an ongoing basis? Are there 
other ways the Agency could address any existing or newly developed 
compounds, such as CASRN 64741-44-2, not on the current list of six 
CASRNs in the draft guidance that may meet the chemical, physical and 
use-based attributes of the six CASRNs of the recommended description 
of diesel fuels, whether or not they have ``diesel fuels'' in the name 
or description?
     Would approach (ii), based on the strict limits of the 
TSCA physical and chemical characteristics, but with no reference to 
suitability for use in a diesel engine, be a more appropriate 
description for permitting diesel fuels under the EPA UIC Program? 
Please explain why this approach is preferred.
     Would approach (iii), which captures many more compounds 
that may or may not be suitable to run a diesel engine, more adequately 
and appropriately characterize diesel fuels for EPA UIC permitting 
purposes? How would you suggest permit writers and applicants 
efficiently and effectively identify chemicals meeting this 
description?
     What other approaches should EPA consider in describing 
diesel fuels?
    In the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Congress revised the SDWA definition 
of ``underground injection'' to specifically exclude from UIC 
regulation the ``underground injection of fluids or propping agents 
(other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations 
related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities'' (SDWA 
Section 1421(d)(1)(B)). The Energy Policy Act of 2005 does not specify 
a threshold concentration or percentage of diesel fuels in the HF 
injectate that would qualify for exclusion from regulation. EPA 
requests comment on whether some de minimis level of diesel fuel 
constituents in HF fluids or propping agents should be used. Commenters 
who support such an approach should also recommend how such a de 
minimis standard should be defined or described and explain the basis 
for their recommendations.
b. Diesel Fuels Usage Information

Questions Related to Diesel Fuels Usage Information

     EPA seeks reliable data about volumes and frequency of 
diesel fuel usage in hydraulic fracturing fluids or propping agents 
(based on the recommended description). EPA welcomes data of this 
nature at any time.
     In developing the draft guidance, EPA found that the 
primary uses of diesel fuels in hydraulic fracturing are as a primary 
base (or carrier) fluid, or added to hydraulic fracturing fluids as a 
component of a chemical additive. In some cases diesel fuels-based 
fracturing fluids are more efficient for transporting and delivering 
propping agents into fractures, as compared to water-based compounds. 
As an additive component,

[[Page 27455]]

diesel fuels may be used for a range of purposes, including adjusting 
fluid properties (e.g., viscosity and lubricity) or as a solvent to aid 
in the delivery of gelling agents. EPA seeks additional information on 
the uses of diesel fuels during underground injection associated with 
hydraulic fracturing, and information about the efficacy of any 
substitutes for diesel fuels, including where substitution may be 
infeasible or raise other technical issues.
c. Permit Duration and Well Closure
    UIC regulations provide for Class II permits to be issued up to the 
operating life of the facility, or for a shorter period. Class II UIC 
permits usually extend through the time of plugging, abandonment and 
closure of a well. However, because hydraulic fracturing activities are 
immediately followed by oil or gas production, the draft guidance 
recommends two approaches for permitting wells allowable under the UIC 
Class II regulations to address the unique nature of hydraulic 
fracturing. EPA permit writers may: (1) Issue short-duration permits 
and convert wells out of the UIC program upon completion of the diesel 
fuels hydraulic fracturing activity, or (2) they may assign the well to 
``temporarily abandoned'' status. The first approach releases the well 
from UIC requirements after the permit expires, while the second 
maintains the permit in active status until final plugging and 
abandonment of the well, with the possibility of reduced monitoring and 
reporting during production. The second approach may be beneficial to 
operators who might conduct future hydraulic fracturing of the well 
using diesel fuel, as it would avoid the need for them to obtain a new 
UIC permit for this activity.

Question Related to Permit Duration and Well Closure

     What additional approaches should EPA consider for UIC 
permitting of diesel fuels hydraulic fracturing injection wells to 
effectively address well closure, plugging and abandonment 
requirements?
d. Area of Review.
    Delineating and evaluating an AoR is one of the cornerstones of the 
UIC Program. It ensures that there are no conduits in the vicinity of 
the injection well that could enable fluids to migrate into USDWs. 
Before proceeding with the project, owners or operators must define the 
appropriate AoR; assess that area for conduits of potential fluid 
movement; and, if necessary, perform corrective action, such as the 
plugging of improperly abandoned and orphaned wells, or re-siting the 
well to account for any conduits that could potentially cause migration 
of contaminants into USDWs. There are two methods for delineating AoR: 
(1) Determining the zone of endangering influence (ZEI), or (2) using a 
minimum one-quarter (\1/4\) mile fixed radius around the well. The 
recommended approach in the draft guidance provides four alternatives 
to these approaches that address the importance of using a site-
specific area of review calculation and take into account not only the 
wellhead, but also the horizontal section of the well. EPA also 
recommends EPA permit writers avoid using the modified Theis equation 
when delineating the AoR.

Questions Related to Area of Review

     What additional area of review delineation approaches 
would you consider effective for the purposes of permitting hydraulic 
fracturing using diesel fuels?
     How would you ensure that the area of review appropriately 
accounts for the horizontally drilled sections of the well without 
being computationally burdensome?
     Are there circumstances where it would be appropriate to 
use the standard approaches (e.g., \1/4\ mile radius around the well) 
for determining AoR? Commenters should explain how the standard 
approach would provide appropriate protection for USDWs.
e. Information Submitted With the Permit Application
    Information submitted and evaluated during the permit application 
process supports permitting decisions and ensures that appropriate 
safeguards (e.g., permit conditions) are established to prevent or 
remedy contamination to USDWs. HF using diesel fuels may pose a number 
of unique risks to USDWs. Due to high injection pressures, there is 
potential to induce fractures that may serve as conduits for fluid 
migration, including harmful chemicals found in diesel fuels. In 
addition, there has been concern about induced seismic events related 
to Class II activities. The UIC regulations allow flexibility in 
permitting to account for local conditions and practices. Under 40 CFR 
144.52(a)(9), EPA permit writers may request and review additional 
information from the owner or operator when evaluating a permit 
application for a diesel fuels HF well.

Questions Related to Information Submitted With the Permit Application

     Standard industry research and exploration field 
collections, such as geologic cores, outcrop data, seismic surveys, and 
well logs, provide additional data on the injection and confining 
zones, including their areal extent, mineralogy, porosity, 
permeability, and capillary pressures and geology or facies changes. 
Access to this data could provide EPA with critical information needed 
to make effective permit determinations. Should EPA recommend 
collection of such data with the permit application? Commenters should 
consider the relative importance of these data to protection of human 
health and underground sources of drinking water versus any additional 
workload for applicants.
     Geomechanical characteristics of the confining zone such 
as, information on fractures, stress, ductility, rock strength, and in 
situ fluid pressures, help predict the propagation of fractures and 
indicate the potential risk of fluid migration. Should EPA recommend 
collection of geomechanical data with the permit application to assist 
EPA in making effective permit determinations? Commenters should 
consider the relative importance of these data to protection of human 
health and underground sources of drinking water versus any additional 
workload for applicants.
     Should the Agency request submittal of seismic data, such 
as the presence and depth of known seismic events and a determination 
that injection would not cause seismicity that interferes with 
containment, with the permit application? How useful would inclusion of 
these data be to minimize potential risk of endangerment to USDWs? 
Please provide rationale in support of your response.
     What other information, if any, should EPA recommend be 
submitted with the permit application to make permitting decisions that 
are protective of human health and underground sources of drinking 
water?
f. Monitoring

Question Related to Monitoring

     The recommended monitoring approaches include 
specifications for mechanical integrity testing prior to and after 
hydraulic fracturing injection using diesel fuels. These 
recommendations ensure that the well maintains integrity during 
operations, given the high pressures and nature of fluids injected 
during hydraulic fracturing. What additional approaches for monitoring 
of well integrity should EPA consider to ensure safe and effective 
injection well operation?

[[Page 27456]]

     According to standard industry monitoring practice, data 
are collected through means such as microseismic monitoring and/or 
tiltmeter monitoring to characterize the actual fracture network and 
compare it with the predictive fracture model. Should EPA include a 
microseismic and/or tiltmeter monitoring, or any other approaches, in 
the guidance recommendations, to ensure that the fracture network does 
not pose a potential risk to USDWs? Please provide a rationale for your 
answer.
     Baseline and periodic monitoring of water quality for all 
USDWs within the area of review help demonstrate the protectiveness of 
permitted operations and are recommended by the American Petroleum 
Institute (HF1, 2009). Water quality monitoring can be especially 
important in cases where owners or operators wish to exercise a 
flexibility recommended in the guidance of either being released from 
the UIC program or operating as temporarily abandoned after injection 
has ceased and production has begun. To utilize these flexibilities, 
owners or operators need to demonstrate that their operations have not 
(or will not) endangered USDWs in the project area. Should EPA include 
baseline and/or periodic monitoring of USDWs as a recommended 
monitoring approach in the guidance? If so, what water quality 
monitoring data should be included to best ensure non-endangerment of 
USDWs?

    Dated: May 4, 2012.
Nancy K. Stoner,
Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Water.
[FR Doc. 2012-11288 Filed 5-9-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P