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U.S. EPA proposes to approve Navajo Nation’s underground injection control program

Release Date: 04/22/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415.947.4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeks comment on its proposal that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency administer and enforce its own Class II Underground Injection Control program.

This program will apply to the existing Class II injection wells and any future wells located within the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Nation, in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

"We have made a preliminary determination that the Navajo Nation's underground injection control program meets the requirements for federal authorization, said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. "We encourage the public to review our determination and supporting documentation, and provide us with any comments they have on this proposed action."

Class II injection wells are used for injecting fluids from oil and gas production, fluids for storing hydrocarbons, and fluids used to enhance oil and gas recovery. The EPA has determined that the Navajo Nation’s Underground Injection Control program fulfills federal regulatory requirements to protect underground drinking water sources.

Navajo Nation modeled its program after the federal program and developed its Class II Underground Injection Control (UIC) program capacity by assisting the EPA in implementing and enforcing federal regulations on Navajo lands. In 2001, the Navajo Nation enacted the Navajo Nation Safe Drinking Water Act, which provides the laws and regulations to administer an Underground Injection Control program. The tribe has qualified staff who issue permits, conduct inspections participate in enforcement actions, and support the EPA’s annual reporting.

Injection wells are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is responsible for regulating the permitting, construction, operation, and safe closure of injection wells that place fluids underground for storage, enhanced oil/gas recovery, or disposal. The program ensures safe operations at injection wells to prevent contamination of underground drinking water resources.

The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on April 24th and the deadline for submitting public comments is May 27th. Please submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R09-OW-2007-0248, by one of the following methods:

www.regulations.gov;
Email: rao.kate@epa.gov;
Fax: 415-947-3549;
Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, Ground Water Office (WTR-9), 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3920; or
Hand Delivery: Deliver your comments to Kate Rao, Environmental Protection Agency, Ground Water Office (WTR-9), 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3920.

Additional information about this action is available on the EPA’s web site at the following location: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/groundwater/navajonation