EPA Looks to FIFRA for Authority to Regulate Hydraulic Fracturing

Acknowledging the agency’s limited authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the principal environmental statutes such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now considering its authority under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to ensure that hydraulic fracturing is adequately regulated.  Small quantities of antimicrobial chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing operations to prevent algal and microbial growth that could impede the flow of oil or natural gas during the extraction process.  Biocides commonly used in hydraulic fracturing fluid including, acrolein, dazomet, and glutaraldehyde are pesticides and therefore regulated under FIFRA.  While EPA is only in the initial stages of weighing the risks associated with the use of antimicrobial chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, industry has raised several FIFRA compliance-related issues including, industry obligations under FIFRA, registration status of certain biocides, and enforcement liability.