Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Attorneys Warn Oil & Gas Companies That EPA is Out to Get Them

Oil & gas industry being targeted by aggressive EPA officials?
From JDSupra:
If you are in the oil and gas industry and you’ve experienced the recent onslaught of enforcement actions, particularly in the Appalachian basin, by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) you may take comfort in the aphorism: “You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you!”  A simple Google search of “EPA III Enforcement” and a click on the “Natural Gas Extraction/Marcellus Shale” link at the EPA Region III website should cause any company concern. The site lists 27 administrative orders issued for alleged violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (all in West Virginia), 16 Section 308 requests to natural gas drillers and publicly owned treatment works that were accepting “oil and gas wastewater”, 13 additional administrative orders and information requests under § 309 of the CWA to facilities accepting wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling operations, and extensive effluent sampling data provided by POTWs as a result of EPA’s information requests. Outside EPA Region III, the United States Department of Justice recently announced a major settlement with a midstream natural gas company requiring payment of a $4 million penalty, removal of certain equipment and installation of additional pollution control devices related to alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). EPA’s enforcement initiative is certainly a multifaceted attack by land, water and air.
On May 16, 2012, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a settlement with midstream company QEP Field Services Co. (“QEPFS”), formerly Questar Gas Management Co., for alleged violations of the CAA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“NESHAPS”), Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”), and Title V provisions at five of their compressor stations. The complaint alleged violation of the notification, record keeping and emissions standards established by the NESHAP provisions contained in subpart HH – Oil and Natural Gas Production Facilities and subpart ZZZZ – Stationary Source Reciprocating engines. The complaint also alleged that QEPFS failed to get the necessary PSD permits and Title V operating permits when they added additional compressor engines or changed out engines that increased emissions above the PSD thresholds. In the consent decree, QEPFS agreed to pay a $3.65 million civil penalty; pay $350,000 into a Tribal Clean Air Trust Fund (the stations are located on the Uintah and Ouray Reservations in Northeastern Utah); remove certain equipment; install additional pollution controls devices; and replace natural gas powered instrument controls systems with compressed air control systems.
Read the rest of the article here.

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