Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates and students collaborate with Clean Water Action on report, “The Environmental Risks and Oversight of Enhanced Oil Recovery in the United States”

Government regulators lack the resources and data to manage over half of U.S. oil production, according to a new report by graduates and students of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) with the environmental advocacy group Clean Water Action.
“The Environmental Risks and Oversight of Enhanced Oil Recovery in the United States” finds that federal and state agencies tasked with monitoring the oil industry do not have the data, resources, and regulations needed to adequately protect water from risks associated with enhanced oil recovery (EOR) practices, which account for an estimated 60 percent of total crude oil production.
“Despite accounting for the majority of U.S. onshore oil production, and presenting significant threats to drinking water sources, most people have never heard of enhanced oil recovery,” said Andrew Grinberg, Clean Water Action’s National Campaigns Special Projects Manager. “Regulators and the public have had little information on what oil companies are doing, so despite the risks, EOR has remained out of sight and out of mind.”
Provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate EOR activities, yet in most oil and gas states, state agencies oversee injection wells. The Trump Administration has proposed cutting federal funding to states for the regulation of injection activities by more than 30 percent, from $10.5 million to $7.3 million.
The new study concludes that:
·         Research on the environmental impacts of EOR is outdated by several decades, and significant data gaps exist that limit the understanding of impacts for regulators and the public.
·         Oil companies are not required to disclose chemicals used for injection, and rarely are required to monitor groundwater for contamination.
·         Inspections of EOR projects do not occur frequently enough due to budget and staffing constraints at both the state and federal levels.
“We found that it is very difficult for state and federal agencies to advocate for stricter oversight without evidence of violations or demonstrated cases of drinking water contamination,” said study co-author Regina Rossmann. “But how can oversight agencies detect such evidence with insufficient budget and staff resources in the first place?”
The report is a part of a practicum project in the Energy, Resources and Environment Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS, which gives students the opportunity to collaborate with partners from private, public, and multilateral institutions to address global energy and environmental challenges. The team of consultants is comprised of graduates Rossmann and Syed Jehangeer Ali, and current students Matthew Geraci and Courtney Romolt.
The full report is available for download at: “The Environmental Risks and Oversight of Enhanced Oil Recovery in the United States
Media Contacts
Michael Kelly
Director of Communications
Clean Water Action
Stacy A. Anderson
Communications Manager
Johns Hopkins SAIS
202.663.5620 office
202.853.7983 mobile
About Johns Hopkins SAIS
A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For nearly 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school’s interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
For more information, visit the Energy, Resources and Environment Program or @ERESAIS.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017