March 20, 2019
The Environmental Rules Review Committee voted unanimously at their March 19 meeting to continue a proposed rulemaking process recommended by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD) without any further oversight of the Committee. The draft rules are designed to strengthen the protection of underground sources of drinking water during the drilling of injection wells.
Prior to the vote on the DEQ rule set (identified as 2019-001 EQ), OGMD Director Adam Wygant presented proposed changes to the Oil and Gas Operations rules that would strengthen the protection of underground sources of drinking water by adding clarity to key terms. The next step for the OGMD will be to move forward working through the Office of Regulatory Reinvention to notice a public hearing, hold a public hearing, and finalize the rule set with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
The DEQ is also in the process of applying for primacy (taking the lead) from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to implement the Class II Underground Injection Control Program. Class II wells are used to inject fluids from oil and natural gas production into the ground. Brines (salt water) are brought to the surface while producing oil and natural gas. Primacy requires the DEQ to demonstrate that the State of Michigan's program for the protection of underground sources of drinking water is equally effective as the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The OGMD is proposing changes to definitions in the current rules to reflect the same high standards for protecting underground sources of drinking water, as are required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The Environmental Rules Review Committee, created by statute (Public Act 267 of 2018), is an independent body of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to oversee the DEQ’s rulemaking. The Committee has the authority to recommend changes to any draft rule language authored by the DEQ. If the DEQ and the Committee are not in agreement after the public hearing on the rules, the Governor makes the final decision.
The Committee consists of 12 members appointed by the Governor and 4 nonvoting members representing the Departments of Agricultural and Rural Development; Environmental Quality; Health and Human Services; and Natural Resources.
For more information about all of the DEQ's pending rule changes, including 2019-001 EQ, visit the Office of Regulatory Reinvention's website.
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