The oil and gas industry is working with the Kasich administration to hammer out differences over a contentious proposal to regulate radioactive drilling waste, but environmentalists fear their concerns will be left out of the mix. The House's version of the biennial budget stripped the administration's plan to require horizontal well operators to test drilling waste for radioactivity and regulate how it could be handled and disposed. Both the industry and environmentalists opposed the measure, albeit for very different reasons.
Ohio Oil and Gas Association Executive Vice President Tom Stewart said he was optimistic that a compromise between the industry and the Kasich administration would be ready for inclusion in the budget before lawmakers send the final version to the governor later this month. Mr. Stewart said the industry doesn't object to the broader proposal to track technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) coming out of oil and gas well operations.
The administration's original proposal would have given the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health jurisdiction over TENORM, which sometimes occurs as fracking fluid comes into repeated contact with naturally occurring radioactive material deep underground. Although the industry has repeatedly sparred with the administration over the governor's plan to increase the oil and gas severance tax, negotiations on radioactive drilling waste have proceeded amiably, Mr. Stewart said. "We appreciate the willingness of the administration to work with us to resolve those matters."