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The BRIEF (Bringing Real Information on Energy Forward) Project


Federal environmental laws have been designed to manage the risks of industrial, commercial and municipal activities. The major regulatory laws are designed with the federal government setting broad national requirements and with states acquiring the authority to implement regulations on pollution sources. States operate under the authority of their individual state environmental laws - laws that generally operate under environmental risk management requirements similar to the corresponding federal law.

Federal environmental laws are crafted to regulate typical manufacturing operations - facilities located on a generally confined site with concentrated emission sources. Consequently, when emissions sources differ from this model - agriculture, oil and natural gas production, mining - Congress has differentiated the laws' requirements to address these distinctions. Some of these with regard to oil and natural gas production are described below:

- Excluded drilling fluids and produced water from regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) hazardous waste subtitle because of existing state regulatory programs (Bentsen Amendment) - 1980

- Excluded oil and natural gas from the scope of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) - 1980 and 1986 (Congress later passed an oil spill super fund law - 1990)

- Restructured the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program from produced water injection to reflect state program expertise - 1980.

- Restricted Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program to manufacturing industries giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to expand it - 1986 (EPA later chose not to include oil and natural gas production during a regulatory expansion - 1997)

- Excluded oil and natural gas production activities from Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements for discharges of uncontaminated storm water - 1987

- Precluded EPA from aggregating multiple oil and natural gas production facilities under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to create artificial stationary sources because these sources are small and scattered and do not pose a significant risk - 1990

-Clarified that the SDWA UIC program did not generally apply to the regulation of hydraulic fracturing which is regulated by states as well stimulation technology - 2005.

-Clarified that all storm water related activities associated with oil and natural gas production - operation and construction - were subject to the same 1987 CWA permitting requirements - 2005

 Similar provisions apply to other industrial, commercial and municipal emissions and discharges to reflect their differences form the manufacturing model of federal governmental laws.

Recently, anti-development groups, such as the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) and the Natural resources Defense Council (NRDC), initiated attacks on federal and state environmental management of oil and natural gas production. Notably, in its "Drilling Down" document, NRDC alleges that any provision of federal law that distinguishes oil and natural gas production represents a "loophole" that needs to be closed. In conjunction with the effort to alter federal law, OGAP and NRDC have initiated actions in states throughout the nation opposing development, trying to prevent state permits and seeking restructuring of the state governmental management process. These efforts share a common theme - misdirection. They seek to shift the focus of environmental management from the control of risk toward a prohibition of certain activities or the use of various chemicals. These attacks cannot go unchallenged.

The Scope of BRIEF

BRIEF has been structured to develop the information necessary to counter the OGAP-NRDC type efforts and then to create mechanisms to broadly spread the information and use it in the multiple venues confronting the industry.

Phase I of BRIEF contains three parts. First, analyses of the federal environmental laws will address the structure of the laws, the oil and natural gas production provisions and the history and basis of those provisions. Second, the energy and economic consequences of changing the current management structure are being assessed. Third, the management effectiveness of the current state regulatory programs in controlling risk under existing federal and state laws will be evaluated. These studies have been completed as of February, 2009.

Phase II of BRIEF will create mechanisms and tools to broadly deliver the results of the Phase I studies and other materials - such as the impending Ground Water Protection Council study on hydraulic fracturing regulation - to the federal and state venues. In part, this will be an education program. In part, it will be more aggressive advocacy. The BRIEF management team will be seeking proposals to develop a mixture of communications tools - briefing papers, Powerpoints, graphical materials, website and other internet or advanced technology options. While these elements will likely initially focus on hydraulic fracturing, they will ultimately embrace all of the areas being challenged. Part of the challenge of Phase II will be structuring it to be quickly responsive to allegations based on anecdotal information while making the material readily accessible to industry, media and other stakeholders. Moreover, Phase II will be an ongoing activity that will have to be continuously current and user friendly.

BRIEF Management Team

BRIEF is being managed by IPAA, OOGA and several other representatives of state oil and natural gas associations interlinked with IPAA's Liaison Committee of Cooperating Oil and Gas Associations (Liaison Committee). The following organizations are currently contributing to the project: IPAA, OOGA, Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, API, Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Illinois Oil and Gas Association, Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania, Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, Indiana Oil and Gas Association, Liaison Committee of Cooperating Oil and Gas Associations, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Permian Basin Petroleum Association and the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

Tom Stewart, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) since 1991, serves as the Ohio associate representative to the Interstate Oil and Natural Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). At IOGCC, Stewart served as chair of the Public Outreach Committee, one of eight standing committees of the Compact. Since 2001, Stewart has been a member of the Board of the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, Inc. (STRONGER) as one of three representatives for the U.S. oil and gas exploration and production industry. During 2003, Stewart served as chairman of the STRONGER Board. STRONGER is a non-profit organization created to administer and advance the state review process of the States' oil and gas exploration and production waste management regulatory programs. Prior to joining OOGA, Mr. Stewart had fifteen years experience in the oil and gas industry as an oil and gas producer and provider of contract drilling services.

Lee Fuller, Vice President of Government Relations, joined IPAA in 1998. From 1978 through 1986, Mr. Fuller served Senator Lloyd Bentsen as a professional staff member and staff director of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. In 1980, he staffed the development of the Bentsen Amendment on drilling fluids and produced water under RCRA, modification to SDWA regarding Class II UIC wells and the provisions on Superfund with regard to its treatment of oil, RCRA wastes and federally permitted releases. In 1986, as staff director, he staffed the development of the TRI program and the CWA storm water provisions. Following his senate career, Mr. Fuller lobbied on behalf of oil and natural gas producers for the next 12 years including the development of the CAA aggregation provision in 1990. After joining IPAA, Mr. Fuller led IPAA's efforts to secure changes to the SDWA regarding hydraulic fracturing and the CWA with respect to storm water construction. Mr. Fuller coordinates IPAA's strategic advocacy with Congress and the Executive Branch. He is a chemical engineer.

Jeff Eshelman, Vice President of Communications, has 9 years of IPAA experience. Additionally, he participated in the development of Dittus Communications, one of the nation's leading public affairs and marketing firms. Mr. Eshelman also served as the energy industry's representative to coordinate communications efforts for the former Speaker of the House's Task Force on Affordable Natural Gas. Eshelman is a member of many coalitions, including The Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, a project launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is working closely as IPAA's representative to the API's General Committee on Communications.

Edward Cross, President of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association (KIOGA),oversees all business activities and programs. He is responsible for public policy advocacy and interaction with external stakeholders. Cross recently served as Chairman of the Public Outreach Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) leading an effort to develop a Communications Resource Guide that created a venue to coordinate oil and gas industry energy education efforts. Cross is a licensed professional geologist.

Adam Haynes, Executive Vice President of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) has more than twenty years experience working directly with local, state, and federal elected leaders. After beginning his career working for Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX) on natural resources and environmental policies, he returned to Texas working for Representative J.J. (Jake) Pickle (D-TX). Prior to joining TIPRO, Mr. Haynes worked for Texas elected legislators on energy, tax and environmental issues. Mr. Haynes completed his education at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. 

Angela Burckhalter, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA), organizes OIPA advocacy on regulations impacting Oklahoma independent oil and gas operators at state and federal regulatory agencies. Ms. Burckhalter worked as an Environmental Engineer on a variety of environmental projects for the federal government and the oil and gas industry. Ms. Burckhalter is a geologist and environmental engineer.