Lawsuit challenging fracking disclosure requirements stayed

As discussed in a previous post, several environmental groups have sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs alleged that the EPA failed to properly respond to their 2012 petition that requested that the EPA issue a rule requiring companies engaging in hydraulic fracturing to disclose chemicals used in their drilling operations. According to the plaintiffs, the Administrative Procedure Act required the EPA to respond to their petition within sixty days.

On Friday, April 24th, the parties filed a joint motion to stay the lawsuit, which the district court approved. In the joint motion, the EPA stated that it would respond to the plaintiff’s petition later this year. Specifically, the EPA agreed to respond before October 30, 2015. The district court has scheduled a status hearing on November 13, 2015. The parties initiated settlement negotiations shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

The plaintiffs’ primary dispute with the EPA revolves around the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The EPCRA empowers the EPA to mandate that the oil and gas industry disclose any chemicals used in their drilling operations. Currently, the oil and gas industry is not subject to the TRI’s requirements. In 2011, the EPA released a proposal to increase the number of industries subject to the TRI disclosure requirements but decided to not subject the oil and gas industry to the disclosure requirements.

Read the joint motion to stay the proceedings.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge ( or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.