We are working to ensure that aquifers that could be used for drinking water are not sacrificed to the fossil fuel industry. Aquifer exemptions prioritize the fossil fuel industry over drinking water by writing off groundwater forever.
The Aquifer Exemption program in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program allows certain oil and gas and mining activity to occur in groundwater that would otherwise be protected as a drinking water source.
When the U.S. Congress first passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974, it authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a program to protect vital under- ground drinking water resources from risks of industrial activities in which fluid is injected
into the ground. However, Congress also included language mandating that EPA not “interfere with or impede” oil and gas production unless it is “absolutely essential” in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.
The regulatory and legislative history of the SDWA Underground Injection Control Program (UIC) demonstrates the impact of this language on the UIC program’s evolution.