Starting in October 2011, the Environmental Integrity Project and other organizations petitioned EPA to add the Oil and Gas Extraction industrial sector to the scope of industrial activity covered by the reporting requirements of Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, commonly known as the “Toxics Release Inventory.” That petition sought to include all sub-sectors of the oil and gas industry in the TRI reporting requirements, including drilling and extraction, processing, and pipeline activities. By letter dated October 22, 2015, EPA advised the public that it was granting in part and denying in part the petition. In particular, EPA advised that it was granting the petition with respect to natural gas processing facilities after determining that they “may be appropriate for addition to the scope of [the] TRI.” EPA, however, denied the petition with respect to other sub-sectors within the oil and gas industry. In denying inclusion of the other sectors within the TRI, EPA included a long list of other rules and interpretive memoranda by which it is engaged in oversight of the oil and gas extraction sector.
EPA’s action on the petition does not immediately result in an additional regulatory burden on gas processing facilities Rather, it is simply a commitment by EPA to propose a rule by which natural gas processing plans would be included within the TRI. According to the EPA ruling, there were 517 natural gas processing plants in the lower 48 states in 2012. It estimated that these plants manufacture, process or otherwise use more than 25 different TRI-listed chemicals, including hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene.
This article was authored by Robert G. McLusky.