A collection of environmental advocacy groups on Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the government has failed to adequately regulate the disposal of waste generated by oil and gas drilling.

In particular, the lawsuit seeks to force the agency to impose stricter rules on the disposal of wastewater, including that from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The wastewater is typically pumped into underground wells – a practice that has been linked to a growing number of earthquakes in Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio and other states. The groups argue that the EPA has neglected to revise its existing rules for nearly three decades, despite acknowledging in the late 1980s that stricter requirements were needed for the handling of oil and gas drilling waste.

“These rules are almost 30 years overdue,” said Adam Kron, a senior attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project, which filed the lawsuit in a D.C. federal court along with a half dozen other advocacy groups. He said that despite the millions of gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of solid waste that a drilling well can produce each year, the EPA has kept in place on vague, inadequate regulations. ” It’s definitely a more waste-intensive industry than ever before. If new rules were needed in 1988, they are certainly needed now.”

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