The Columbus Dispatch recently wrote an article focused on criticisms of regulation of fracking wastewater disposal. Environmentalists opposing the new proposed Ohio DNR deep well injection rules for the oil & gas sector is not unexpected. What is missing is any debate on the key environmental policy questions revolving around this issue. For example, is turning Ohio into the leading location for deep well injection of Oil & Gas drilling wastes generated in the Midwest a good thing? Has anyone studied why so much brine and fracking wastewater travels to Ohio for deep well disposal and if this presents problems in the future with the expected huge expansion of fracking in Ohio? If yes I am not aware of this.
The technical/cost issues of the new proposed Ohio DNR rules requiring seismic testing for every new injection well sidesteps the larger and more important Ohio environmental policy issue of accepting for deep well disposal so much brine and fracking wastewater that is trucked in from adjacent states. According to Ohio DNR information, Ohio’s 171 disposal wells injected 12.2 million barrels of waste last year, with 53 percent coming from Pennsylvania and West Virginia shale wells. Twenty-three new injection disposal wells are in varying stages of construction and startup, and Ohio DNR has applications to create an additional 29. In any technical operation such as deep well injection, the greater the operation runs the greater the chance of failure. This is fundamental risk analysis.
So, if “accidents will happen” the better question might be whether Ohio wants to continue accepting the large quantities of out-of-state oil & gas exploration wastewater when more and more of this wastewater will be generated by new Ohio production wells.