Exposing Aquifer Exemptions

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.

Money in Politics Cover

The Chilling Effect of Oil and Gas Money on Our Democracy

The oil and gas industry, aided by the erosion of campaign finance laws and nearly boundless lobbying budgets, asserts enormous influence over legislative processes in real time while also enjoying legacy influence in regulatory frame- works. The results can be devastating to the health of the environment and the public.

New Report Raises Questions About Colorado Oil and Gas Injection Wells and Threat to Drinking Water Sources

“Turning over aquifers to fossil fuel companies for injection should only be done with the most extreme caution - if at all. Colorado regulators do not even keep a list of which aquifers have been handed over to the industry, and EPA’s list is full of holes,” said report author, Andrew Grinberg.

Aquifer Exemptions: The Report

Aquifer Exemptions: Sacrificing Groundwater for Oil and Gas Production

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. 

Regulating Oil & Gas Activities to Protect Drinking Water

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.

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From We All Live Downstream

April 4, 2016

California recently became the poster child for problems with oil and gas injection wells.

US Map with Aquifer Exemptions plotted
March 25, 2016

On March 23, we sent a legal petition to EPA requesting the Agency revoke or amend its rules governing Aquifer Exemptions.

Kern River Oil Field in California. Photo credit: Andrew Grinberg / Clean Water Action
January 3, 2016

Highlights from some of Clean Water's favorite insights and developments this year in the world of oil and gas, drinking water protection and climate change.