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Oil Company Demands Right to Inject Waste

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - A Texas oil and gas company claims an Oklahoma county is unconstitutionally regulating its injection of wastewater into the ground.

Overflow Energy sued the Roger Mills County Board of Commissioners in Federal Court.

In its 10-page lawsuit, Overflow makes no mention of whether it uses the wastewater - which it calls saltwater - for fracking, or simply disposes of it underground. It describes itself as a disposer of waste products from oil and gas drilling. But, checked this morning, list dozens of oil and gas leases operated by Overflow, with their production levels redacted, and at least 17 more drilling permits for which the company has applied, with all information fuzzed out.

Roger Mills County sits above the petroleum-rich Anadarko Basin, which is estimated to contain more than 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Overflow says it wants to use 3.2 acres in the county "for the drilling, installation, operation, and maintenance of a salt water disposal facility."

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, uses waste products, or whatever's available, to force oil and gas up from underground to be captured and pumped to the surface. It is controversial, as opponents claim the fracturing of underground rock allows drinking water aquifers to be contaminated by the wastes and hydrocarbons.

Overflow claims it entered into a "Salt Water Disposal Agreement" with a family trust "for the commercial disposal of produced saltwater produced from oil and gas wells." The family is to be paid based on the volume of wastewater disposed of underground.

Roger Mills County, in western Oklahoma on the Texas border, is home to the 31,000-acre Black Kettle National Grassland.

"The disposal of produced saltwater from oil and gas wells is a necessary and customary incident to the production of oil and gas," Overflow says in its complaint.

The company sought a zoning variance for its dump site, which is zoned for agricultural use, and the county zoning board denied it on Sept. 23.

Overflow claims the denial violated the 14th Amendment and the Oklahoma Constitution. It seeks declaratory judgment, an injunction, and more than $75,000 in damages. It is represented by Gregory Mahaffey with Mahaffey & Gore.


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