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Originally published in DeSmog Blog.



Earthquakes caused by injection of shale oil and gas production wastes — and methane leakage from shale gas pipelines — have proliferated in recent years, with both issues well-studied in the scientific literature and grabbing headlines in newspapers nationwide.

Lesser-mentioned, though perhaps at the root of both problems, is a key exemption won by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact (IOGCC) via a concerted lobbying effort in the 1980’s. That is, classifying oil and gas wastes as something other than “hazardous” or “solid wastes” under Subtitles C and D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), thus exempting the industry from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement.

The RCRA exemption has played a front-and-center role in two recent federal lawsuits on both of these issues — the frackquake case just started and the pipeline emissions one recently resulted in a favorable judgment for the industry.

Those cases, Sierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, Et Al and Northern Illinois Gas Company  (a Nicor subsidiary) v. City of Evanston, offer an opportunity for a history lesson. At the center of that history, a DeSmog investigation reveals, is the IOGCC.

IOGCC, a recent InsideClimate News investigation demonstrated using documents obtained by DeSmog and GreenpeaceUSA, is a constitutionally-authorized interstate compact that more or less has served as a Congress-chartered industry lobbying node since signed into law way back in 1935.

Read more here.