U.S. EPA to Add Natural Gas Processing Facilities to TRI Reporting
Posted: November 16th, 2015Authors: Sean C.
In response to a long-time push from environmentalists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has agreed to begin a rulemaking which would add natural gas processing facilities to the list of industry sectors subject to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting. However, U.S. EPA has partially rejected the environmentalist requests and is not pursuing the addition of other oil and gas facilities, such as the oil and gas extraction sector, to TRI reporting.
On October 22, 2015, U.S. EPA responded to a petition filed by the Environmental Integrity Project and 16 other organizations requesting to add the oil and gas extraction sector to TRI reporting. U.S. EPA determined that natural gas processing facilities (to be defined in the subsequent rulemaking) are appropriate for addition to TRI reporting because there are enough facilities in the continental U.S. that meet the thresholds for reporting to make it worthwhile to add to the program.
U.S. EPA determined that other types of oil and gas extraction facilities under Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code 13 do not meet the TRI reporting thresholds in sufficient quantity to make the rulemaking worthwhile. The TRI thresholds of note in these cases are the number of employees and the volume of TRI chemicals handled. Even though many activities in SIC 13 may manufacture, process, or release significant quantities of TRI chemicals, these activities are spread over large geographical areas and do not require many employees to effectively operate. U.S. EPA states that these sources will instead be subject to other activities such as rulemaking, research, guidance, and other outreach as they are developed.
Environmentalists argue that even though the sources may be spread out over large geographical areas, some sources can be connected to each other through proximity and ownership, or aggregated, to pool the sources’ throughputs and employees. Once the sources are connected, they would potentially be subject to TRI reporting since they could now meet the reporting thresholds with more frequency. To learn more about the recent discussion and activity around the definition of source aggregation, please read Bob Kuklentz’s blog.
Currently, U.S. EPA does not seem to wholly support the notion of aggregation of these sources as defined in previous litigation. However, it will be important to monitor the single source definition rulemaking and how it is applied to this future rulemaking. It is not yet known when affected facilities will be required to complete TRI reporting under this rulemaking, but ALL4 will continue to provide updates regarding this and other oil and gas related topics as more information is released. Feel free to contact me or JP Kleinle at email@example.com with any questions.