With little fanfare, EPA has finally proposed to approve Louisiana’s Class VI underground injection control (UIC) well program. The proposal to approve Louisiana’s program comes nearly two years after the state submitted its package for consideration.
The pre-publication version of EPA’s proposal walks through the agency’s process and substantive consideration of Louisiana’s statutes, regulations, and enforcement authority. EPA proposes to conclude that the state program “meets all applicable requirements for approval under [Safe Drinking Water Act] section 1422 and the State is capable of administering a UIC Class VI program in a manner consistent with the terms and purposes of SDWA and all applicable UIC regulations.”
EPA also explains that it compared the state’s commitments on environmental justice (EJ) to EPA’s December 9, 2022 memorandum to state governors, which set out recommendations for states to incorporate EJ into Class VI programs. Though EPA concludes that Louisiana’s Class VI program “addressed all EJ elements that were discussed in the December 9, 2022 letter,” EPA is careful not to suggest that the letter establishes any new requirements for state UIC programs. Indeed, EPA references several times “LDNR’s commitments” to EJ and equity in the state-run UIC program, underscoring that these commitments are policy choices made by the state, not mandates from the federal government. This messaging may be welcomed by other states pursuing Class VI primacy, including those that have not yet memorialized EJ concepts into state law or regulation.
The proposed approval will be available for public comment for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. A public hearing is scheduled for June 15 at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources in Baton Rouge. EPA encourages the public to pre-register to speak at the hearing by contacting Lisa Pham at 214-664-8326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.