Gas Processing Plants Must Disclose Chemical Releases, EPA Says

by | Oct 29, 2015

gas processing plantEPA rules will soon require companies to report on toxic chemicals released at natural gas processing plant.

The agency, in response to a lawsuit by environmental and open government organizations, said in a letter that it will propose new regulations requiring these facilities to file Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports.

TRI data is submitted annually to the EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste.

The Environmental Integrity Project and eight partner organizations sued the agency in January, arguing that the oil and gas extraction industry should be added to the TRI.

According to the Department of Energy, more than 551 plants processed more than 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014, a record high and 32 percent increase over the last 10 years. The EPA estimates that more than half of these plants would meet the size thresholds for TRI reporting of benzene (a carcinogen) as well as formaldehyde, hexane, and other pollutants.

The Environmental Integrity Project had filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Effective Government, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, the Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, the Responsible Drilling Alliance, and Texas Campaign for the Environment. In April, EPA committed that it would provide a formal response to the petition by Oct. 30.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in her response to the environmental organizations: “The addition of natural gas processing facilities to TRI would meaningfully increase the information available to the public and further the purposes of (the TRI law) EPCRA § 313…EPA estimates that natural gas processing facilities in the US manufacture, process, or otherwise use more than 25 different TRl-listed chemicals.”

Not included in EPA’s decision are well sites, compressor stations, pipelines and other smaller facilities that employ fewer than 10 people.

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