|RANGE RESOURCES CORP filed this Form 10-K on 02/22/2017|
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, as amended (“CERCLA”), also known as the “Superfund” law and comparable state laws impose liability, without regard to fault or the legality of the original conduct, on certain classes of persons who are considered to be responsible for the release of a “hazardous substance” into the environment. These persons may include owners or operators of the disposal site or sites where the hazardous substance release occurred and companies that disposed of or arranged for the disposal of the hazardous substances at the site where the release occurred. Under CERCLA, all of these persons may be subject to joint and several liability for the costs of cleaning up the hazardous substances that have been released into the environment, for damages to natural resources and for the costs of certain health studies. In addition, it is not uncommon for neighboring landowners and other third parties, pursuant to environmental statutes, common law or both, to file claims for personal injury and property damages allegedly caused by the release of hazardous substances or other pollutants into the environment. Although petroleum, including crude oil and natural gas, is not a “hazardous substance” under CERCLA, at least two courts have ruled that certain wastes associated with the production of crude oil may be classified as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA and that releases of such wastes may therefore give rise to liability under CERCLA. While we generate materials in the course of our operations that may be regulated as hazardous substances, we have not received notification that we may be potentially responsible for cleanup costs under CERCLA. In addition, certain state laws also regulate the disposal of oil and natural gas wastes. New state and federal regulatory initiatives that could have a significant adverse impact on us may periodically be proposed and enacted.
Waste handling. We also may incur liability under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as amended (“RCRA”) and comparable state laws, which impose requirements related to the handling and disposal of non-hazardous solid wastes and hazardous wastes. Drilling fluids, produced waters, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy are currently regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and state agencies under RCRA’s less stringent non-hazardous solid waste provisions. It is possible that these solid wastes could in the future be reclassified as hazardous wastes, whether by amendment of RCRA or adoption of new laws, which could significantly increase our costs to manage and dispose of such wastes. Moreover, ordinary industrial wastes, such as paint wastes, waste solvents, laboratory wastes and waste compressor oils, may be regulated as hazardous wastes. Although the costs of managing wastes classified as hazardous waste may be significant, we do not expect to experience more burdensome costs than similarly situated companies in our industry.
We currently own or lease, and have in the past owned or leased, properties that have been used for many years for the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Petroleum hydrocarbons or wastes may have been disposed of or released on or under the properties owned or leased by us, or on or under other locations where such materials have been taken for disposal. In addition, some of these properties have been operated by third parties whose treatment and disposal or release of petroleum hydrocarbons and wastes was not under our control. These properties and the materials disposed or released on them may be subject to CERCLA, RCRA and comparable state laws and regulations. Under such laws and regulations, we could be required to remove or remediate previously disposed wastes or property contamination, or to perform remedial activities to prevent future contamination.
Water discharges and use. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (the “CWA”), and comparable state laws impose restrictions and strict controls regarding the discharge of pollutants, including produced waters and other oil and natural gas wastes, into federal and state waters. The discharge of pollutants into regulated waters is prohibited, except in accordance with the terms of a permit issued by the EPA or the state. These laws also prohibit the discharge of dredge and fill material in regulated waters, including wetlands, unless authorized by permit. These laws and any implementing regulations provide for administrative, civil and criminal penalties for any unauthorized discharges of oil and other substances in reportable quantities and may impose substantial potential liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages. Pursuant to these laws and regulations, we may be required to obtain and maintain approvals or permits for the discharge of wastewater or storm water and are required to develop and implement spill prevention, control and countermeasure plans, also referred to as “SPCC plans,” in connection with on-site storage of greater than threshold quantities of oil. We regularly review our natural gas and oil properties to determine the need for new or updated SPCC plans and, where necessary, we will be developing or upgrading such plans, the costs of which are not expected to be substantial.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, as amended (“OPA”), contains numerous requirements relating to the prevention of and response to oil spills into waters of the United States. The OPA subjects owners of facilities to strict, joint and several liability for all containment and cleanup costs and certain other damages arising from an oil spill, including, but not limited to, the costs of responding to a release of oil to surface waters. While we believe we have been in substantial compliance with OPA, noncompliance could result in varying civil and criminal penalties and liabilities.
The Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) Program authorized by the Safe Drinking Water Act prohibits any underground injection unless authorized by a permit. In connection with our operations, Range may dispose of produced water in underground wells, which are designed and permitted to place the water into deep geologic formations, isolated from fresh water sources. However, because some states have become concerned that the disposal of produced water could under certain circumstances contribute to seismicity, they have adopted or are considering adopting additional regulations governing such disposal. For example, in January 2016, Ohio lawmakers proposed new legislation that would, among other things, require injection wells be located more than 2,000