Know How: Alert


EPA Seeking Comments on CBM Guidelines



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This notice is for Steptoe & Johnson clients who have interests in coalbed methane (CBM). As you may know, the U.S. EPA has been, for the past six years, evaluating the need to develop specific effluent limit guidelines (ELGs) for CBM-related water discharges. This effort was driven by the EPA’s concerns over the high levels of total dissolved solids in CBM-related wastewater streams. After considerable data collection and review, the EPA proposed in August, 2013 to “delist” this ELG effort. What this means is that the EPA is proposing to stop working on this particular issue and is seeking public comment on its proposal to do so.

The EPA notes in its related Technical Development Document that “…recent findings show that the natural gas industry has changed since EPA conducted a detailed study and selected this category for rulemaking.”

Said another way, current prices for natural gas have significantly diminished the economic incentives for CBM development, so the EPA believes a separate ELG effort is no longer warranted. CBM operators can and will be able to continue to operate under whatever limits have been set in their state issued permits – generally a Best Professional Judgment standard relative to treating for total dissolved solids.

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC urges its clients with CBM operations to submit a letter in support of this delisting proposal to the EPA by October 7, 2013. This is one EPA proposal that will benefit the industry by maintaining the status quo. Please feel free to contact the firm if you need assistance in drafting a letter.


Government Relations Coordinator - PA
(724) 749-3157
Southpointe, PA