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Bear Lake Properties, LLC

06/28/2012

Case Number:UIC Appeal No. 11-03
ELR Citation:42 ELR 41361

Mr. William A. Peiffer, Jr. and Mr. Paul T. Stroup (Petitioners) petitioned the Environmental Appeals Board to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3's decision to issue two Underground Injection Control (UIC) permits to Bear Lake Properties, LLC, pursuant to Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), 42 U.S.C. §§300h-300h-8, and EPA’s implementing regulations at 40 C.F.R. parts 124 and 144-148. The permits authorize construction and operation of two Class II injection wells referred to as Bittinger #1 and Bittinger #4 in Columbus Township, Warren County, Pennsylvania.

On appeal Petitioners argue that the Region’s decision to issue the permits was deficient in six respects. In particular, Petitioners argue that the Region clearly erred by 1) failing to establish that it satisfied its regulatory obligations to account for and consider all drinking water wells within the area of review of the injection wells; 2) failing to properly account for the depth of water wells in Columbus Township; 3) failing to account for all gas wells in the area of review of the injection wells; 4) failing to consider the population growth of Columbus Township and the possible adverse economic impacts of the injection wells; 5) failing to consider the potential for earthquakes; and 6) accepting late-filed comments on the draft permit.

Held: The Board remands the permit on the issue of whether the Region adequately articulated in the record and to the public that the Region satisfied its regulatory obligations to account for and consider all drinking water wells within the area of review of the injection wells. The Region had a responsibility to ensure that accurate data as to drinking water wells within the area of review of the proposed injection wells were identified and considered. The record does not support a finding that the Region satisfied its responsibility in this regard. In particular, the Region failed to clearly articulate its regulatory obligations or compile a record sufficient to assure the public that the Region relied on accurate and appropriate data in satisfying its obligations. The permit is therefore remanded. Review is denied on all other issues.