The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted oil and gas activities from EPA storm water plans and permits. However, there are certain circumstances that are not exempt from storm water regulations.
In June 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the ‘Final Rule’ exempting oil and natural gas construction activities from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, except in limited instances. This exemption extends to all states, federal lands, and Indian countries regardless of the NPDES permitting authority.
However, the ‘Final Rule’ does allow states and local entities to regulate storm water discharges through non-NPDES permit programs, and it encourages Best Management Practices (BMPs).
“Limited instances” can confuse and sometimes catch people off-guard. A storm water plan is not necessary for construction activities as long as storm water runoff is “not contaminated by contact with or that has not come into contact with, any overburden, raw material, intermediate products, finished product, byproduct or waste products located on the site of such operations” (40 CFR § 122.26 (a)(2)). Keep construction sites clean from contaminates!
Additionally, non-NPDES permit programs may catch someone off-guard. While a NPDES permit may not be necessary, a state or local entity may require approval of a storm water plan based on state or local regulations. Before construction, check state and local regulations to see if a plan is necessary.
While storm water plans and permits are not in the immediate future, the use of BMPs is encouraged and should be implemented. This practice will help minimize erosion and control sediment while protecting surface water quality during storm events. Self-regulation will help keep federal regulations at a minimum when it comes to storm water plans and permits.
RS&H encourages clean construction sites, research of state and local regulations before construction begins, and the use of BMPs during construction. Our staff is available to answer questions or to develop BMP.