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Toxics Release Inventory Reporting for Natural Gas Processing Facilities

Posted: March 26th, 2017

Author: All4 Staff 

(Update March 2017): After requests from stakeholders for an extension for comments on the EPA’s proposed addition of natural gas processing facilities to the Toxics Release Inventory, EPA has extended the comment period on the proposal.  An additional 60 days have been added to the comment period for this proposal. The comment period now extends from March 7th, 2017 until May 6th, 2017.

(Original 2/2/17): On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) formally proposed a rulemaking that would add natural gas processing (NGP) facilities to the list of industrial sectors subject to Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting and Section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA).  If you happen to be a member of the oil and gas industry, you’ll likely recall ALL4’s historic blog introducing the possibility of just such a rulemaking.  As ALL4’s Sean Cunningham related in that article, a long-time push by environmentalists caused U.S. EPA to begin a rulemaking to add natural gas facilities to the list of industry sectors subject to TRI reporting.  Now that U.S. EPA has formally proposed the rulemaking, let’s talk about what that actually means.

Many facilities are required under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to submit an annual TRI report to both the U.S. EPA and appropriate state officials.  The deadline is July 1 of each year.  In order for a facility to be subject to the TRI reporting requirement, a facility must meet all three of the following criteria:

  • Have 10 or more full-time employee equivalents (i.e., a total of 20,000 hours per year or greater).
  • Have a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code listed in the implementing regulations at 40 CFR §372.23.
  • Manufacture, process, or otherwise use any EPCRA Section 313 chemical in quantities greater than the established threshold in the course of the calendar year.

U.S. EPA is estimating that between 282 and 444 NGP facilities will meet all three criteria cited above.  The current TRI chemical list identifies 595 individually listed chemicals and 31 chemical categories.  For perspective, in the proposed rulemaking U.S. EPA estimates that at least 21 of the 595 different TRI-listed chemicals could be present at NGP facilities.  If you qualify as an NGP facility, we encourage you to review your facility data now so that you understand the likelihood of being required to report in the future.  As you can imagine, it doesn’t take much to qualify for the first two criteria.  And if you do qualify under the first two, you will need to do your due diligence on the third criterion to determine if your facility manufactured, processed, or otherwise used an EPCRA Section 313 chemical in quantities greater than the established Section 313 thresholds.  If you do need to submit a TRI report, how confident are you in the quality of your data set, which would be used by the public to potentially identify your facility as posing chemical threats at the community level?

If finalized as proposed, the TRI reporting requirement would result in the first occasion that many types of data specific to the oil and gas industry become available to the public for review.  Because of this, affected NGP facilities would need to have a high level of confidence in the quality of data being submitted.  The implications of the proposed rule cannot be taken lightly.  Although the Federal Register notice does not propose how soon facilities could be required to complete TRI reporting, ALL4 is following this topic closely recognizing the impact it would have on affected facilities.

ALL4 has significant experience reporting to the Toxic Release Inventory and has assisted clients reporting in a variety of industries including (but not limited to) pulp and paper manufacturing, cement manufacturing, marine vessel manufacturing, electricity generation, crude coal tar refining, petroleum distribution, and brick manufacturing.

If you are not sure if you may become subject to TRI reporting, call us.  We can evaluate the extent to which you have manufactured, processed, or otherwise used quantities of Section 313 chemicals during previous years and give our opinion on the likelihood of your facility being subject to reporting in the future.

This article is available as a podcast episode on ALL4’s Air Quality Insider


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