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Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: WVDEP Issues New Storm Water Construction General Permit for Oil and Gas Projects

By Armando F. Benincasa

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) issued its long-delayed Storm Water Construction General Permit for Oil and Gas projects this past Monday. The permit which will impact greatly oil and gas industry support activities, such as pipeline construction, will become effective June 12, 2013 assuming no legal challenge to the permit and/or action taken to delay or stay the implementation of the permit.

Oil and gas project construction activities after June 12, 2013 will be required to obtain coverage under this new state general water pollution control permit.

The permit will be required for any and all oil and gas construction projects which result in the disturbance of more than one acre of land, and the activity is not covered by a well work permit issued by the agency's Office of Oil and Gas. It is anticipated that pipeline, compressor station, processing facilities and access roads not permitted pursuant to a well work permit will be required to obtain coverage for construction activities related to these facilities. Prior to issuance of the permit by WVDEP, oil and gas industry-related construction activities not related to a well work permit were exempt from obtaining coverage under a construction storm water permit as a result of exemptions contained in the federal Clean Water Act. Those exemptions, though, do not preclude states from enacting their own permits to cover these type of construction activities.

West Virginia now joins other states like Pennsylvania to enact state water pollution control permit requirements for oil and gas project construction activities. The permit includes requirements that prospective permittees file either a Notice of Intent to obtain coverage for an activity or a site registration application with the agency prior to commencement of construction activities depending upon the amount of land disturbance.

To view and download a copy of the permit, click here.

Armando Benincasa concentrates his practice in the areas of energy law, environmental law, environmental litigation, administrative law, government affairs and lobbying.

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