In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined to update regulations on oil and gas waste in response to a 2016 petition from environmental groups.
Aaron Mintzes of Earthworks, one of the groups that pushed EPA to update its regulations, stated that a legal loophole allows substances such as benzene that are usually considered hazardous, such as benzene, to be declared non-hazardous when they are found in oil or gas industry waste. Some states allow companies to inject fracking wastewater underground, spread it on roads or sell it for other uses.
“Unfortunately states follow EPA’s lead, to the detriment of communities around the country hosting oil and gas operations,” Mintzes said in a statement.
In June, EPA is expected to release the Affordable Clean Energy rule, the Trump administration’s replacement for the Clean Power Plan. The EPA initially estimated that the Trump administration rule would result in an additional 1,400 premature deaths annually. According to The New York Times, the rule is expected to include a new method for calculating human health risks associated with air pollution. This method is expected to lower the agency’s estimate of the health damage from increased particulate matter in the atmosphere.
In May, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill requiring the state’s 20 electric cooperatives to make board member salaries and benefits public and outlawing trustees from profiting off business dealings between their businesses and the co-op.
In March, the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection issued a permit for a 4.85-mile natural gas pipeline in Jefferson County without rescheduling a public hearing that was cancelled in February due to logistical concerns.
In May, a federal appeals court ruled that Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray violated labor rights at five of his West Virginia coal mines in 2013 by telling miners they made too many complaints to federal safety regulators.