In re Beeland Group, LLC
Star Township, Antrim County, and Friends of the Jordan River (together, “FJR”) petitioned the Environmental Appeals Board (“EAB” or “Board”) to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “Agency”), Region 5 (“Region”) decision to issue an Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) permit to Beeland Group, LLC (“Beeland”). The permit authorizes Beeland to construct a Class I non-hazardous waste injection well in Antrim County, Michigan, for injection into the Dundee Limestone and Detroit River Group formation. Under the permit, the Region will determine, in a subsequent decision, whether ultimate operation of the well is appropriate.
On appeal, FJR argues that the Region’s decision to issue the construction permit is deficient in seven respects. First, FJR disputes the Region’s conclusion that the Bell Shale formation, which lies above the injection zone, will be a confining layer. Second, FJR challenges the Region’s characterization of the proposed injection fluid as non-hazardous. Third, FJR contends that Beeland’s permit application lacked sufficient data concerning the proposed injection fluid, existing reservoir conditions, and effect of the injection fluid on the Dundee Limestone formation. Fourth, FJR alleges that the Region’s decisionmaking process was deficient because it violated certain aspects of the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 300h-300h-8, that serve as functional equivalents to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321- 4307f. Fifth, FJR asserts that the Region’s Response to Comments document is clearly erroneous. Sixth, FJR argues that the Region failed to perform an environmental justice analysis consistent with Executive Order 12,898. Finally, FJR contends that the Region should have held evidentiary hearings prior to issuing the permit.