EPA Proposes Wastewater Discharge Permits for Oil and Gas Exploration in Alaska

EPA is now seeking input on two draft wastewater discharge permits for oil and gas exploration activities in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The proposed Clean Water Act permits protect public health and the marine environment by placing limits and conditions on the types and amounts of pollution companies can discharge in waste water during oil and gas exploration activities. The proposed permits also require the companies to conduct environmental studies before, during, and after drilling discharges occur to ensure compliance with permit limits.         

These permits are National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permits. EPA is proposing one General Permit for the Chukchi Sea and one for the Beaufort Sea. The existing Arctic General Permit (GP), which covered oil and gas exploration discharges for both seas, expired June 2011. Companies currently covered under the expired Arctic GP must reapply for coverage and comply with the new terms and conditions under the final Beaufort and/or Chukchi General Permits.

A detailed summary table of the changes in the General Permits and the specific sections EPA is requesting comments on is included in Appendix A of the Fact Sheet. EPA plans to re-issue the final Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea General Permits by October 2012.

The public comment period for the proposed permits starts: Jan. 30, 2012 and ends March 30, 2012. After the public comment period ends, the EPA will review and address public comments before making final decisions on the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea General Permits.

People who want to comment on the draft General Permits and Fact Sheet must do so by March 30, 2012.

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