How Oil & Gas Waste Became Exempt From Federal Regulation: A Timeline

Key event was in 1988, when the EPA decided to classify most oil and gas waste as 'non hazardous,' even though it contains dangerous chemicals.

Infographic Credit: Paul Horn/InsideClimate News

In the small town of Nordheim, Texas, residents are trying to stop a commercial oil and gas waste facility proposed for a large plot of land less than a mile away. They worry that the Texas wind will carry toxic air emissions into the town and across the campus of the local school.

The residents' effort is hampered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision in 1988 to classify most oil and gas waste as "non hazardous," even though it contains chemicals, including benzene, that are known to cause health problems. The industry lobbied hard for the non-hazardous classification, arguing that the cost of treating the waste as hazardous would be exorbitant.

Here's a look at how the exemption came about, and a recent effort to repeal it.

READ: Open Pits Offer Cheap Disposal for Fracking Sludge, but Health Worries Mount

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