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Crude Oil and Natural Gas Waste

Image of an oil field with heavy machinery

Wastes generated during the exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural gas, and geothermal energy are categorized by EPA as "special wastes" and are exempt from federal hazardous waste regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

This Web page provides an outline of the legislative and regulatory history of this exemption, as well as links to key regulatory and technical documents.

Related Crude Oil and Natural Gas Waste Topics:

Legislative and Regulatory Timeline (Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Waste Exemption, Bentsen Amendment)

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

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Public Docket for Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Waste Exemption

Dockets contain all publicly available materials used in the development of regulations, such as Federal Register notices and rules, supporting analyses, technical background documents, and comments submitted by the public on Agency reports and rulemakings. EPA dockets are available electronically at Regulations.gov.

To use Regulations.gov:

  1. Select Docket Search.
  2. Select "Environmental Protection Agency" from the Agency drop-down menu.
  3. In the Docket ID Box, type in the DOCKET ID number (EPA-HQ-RCRA-1988-0068 or EPA-HQ-RCRA-1988-0069) and then click the "Submit" button to receive your search results. Be patient; loading the documents can take several minutes.
  4. The docket should appear with the docket ID number (e.g., EPA-HQ-RCRA-1988-0068, EPA-HQ-RCRA-1988-0069).

The Docket ID numbers for the Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Waste Exemption are:

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Supporting Technical Documents

Associated Waste Reports (January 2000)
This series of reports provides EPA's findings and understanding of associated oil and gas exploration and production wastes, including the means by which they are generated and the methods used for their management and disposal.

EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance Oil and Gas Extraction Industry Profile (PDF) (165 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF)
This 1999 publication contains a wealth of information on the oil and gas extraction industry including a comprehensive environmental profile; industrial process information; pollution prevention techniques; regulatory requirements; compliance and enforcement history; and additional resources.

Guidance for the Analysis of Refinery Waste, July 1985 (PDF) (41 pp, 874K)

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State Reviews

State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) Exit EPA
STRONGER is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization whose purpose is to assist states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas. Reports of the reviews are available from STRONGER and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) Exit EPA.

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Oil Field Waste Pits: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 6 Program
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Region 6 oil field waste pits program examines the problems with, and solutions to, oil field waste pits in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Kansas.

EPA's Office of Water
EPA's Office of Water (OW) is responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act to protect human health and water quality.

For additional information, see:

EPA's Oil Program
This Web site provides information about EPA's program for preventing, preparing for, and responding to oil spills that occur in and around inland waters of the U.S.

U.S. Department of Energy Drilling Waste Management Information System
The Drilling Waste Management Information System is an online resource for technical and regulatory information on practices for managing drilling muds and cuttings, including current practices, state and federal regulations, guidelines for optimal management practices, and case studies for successful applications.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy
The mission of DOE's Office of Fossil Energy is the promotion and development of a new generation of environmentally-sound energy technologies.

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