Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, focusing on: (1) whether evidence exists of drinking water contamination from injection wells used in oil and gas production, known as Class II wells, and if so, the causes and actions taken to prevent similar occurrences; and (2) the degree to which states have implemented program safeguards to protect against drinking water contamination.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||1. In order to better safeguard drinking water supplies from contamination from Class II wells, the Administrator, EPA, should require that UIC program regulations or guidance be established for state- and EPA-administered programs to make existing wells subject to area-of-review requirements as are new wells.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||2. The Administrator, EPA, should establish a priority system to ensure that the regulatory agencies first review those area reviews containing improperly plugged wells that pose the greatest environmental risks.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||3. To help ensure that Class II wells are structurally sound and not injecting into areas of unplugged wells, the Administrator, EPA, should require state program regulatory agencies to institute the internal controls necessary to ensure that Class II permits are issued only if documentation exists that area-of-review information was checked and the pressure test portion of mechanical integrity tests was conducted.|