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Environmental Issues in International Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Jill A. Kotvis, International Resources Law II: A Blueprint for Mineral Development (1995)

These days everyone in the oil and gas industry in the United States is familiar with the complex overlay of the seemingly infinite federal and state agencies claiming jurisdiction over oil and gas exploration and production and the associated operations. Although exemptions exist under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act1 (“RCRA”) for wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil or gas,2 and petroleum and natural gas are excluded from regulation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act (“CERCLA”),3 recent case law continues to dilute the exemptions under RCRA and CERCLA. Furthermore, other byproducts of oil and gas exploration and production are increasingly being regulated under these statutes and other federal and state statutes.

The following non-exempt oil and gas wastes are some of those currently regulated under RCRA: painting wastes, unused fracturing fluids or acids, gas plant cooling tower cleaning wastes, oil and gas service company wastes, refinery wastes, used equipment lubrication oils, waste compressor oil and filters, used hydraulic oil, waste solvents, waste in transportation pipeline pits, caustic or acid cleaners, pesticide wastes, sanitary wastes, boiler cleaning wastes, drums, insulation, and pigging wastes from transportation lines.4

The following additional byprodu