EPA Turns from Enforcement to Compliance Initiatives

For years, EPA routinely announced national enforcement initiatives, focusing its enforcement and compliance resources on the most serious environmental violations at facilities across the nation. In August 2018, EPA announced that it intended to “evolve” the enforcement initiatives into compliance initiatives. EPA stated at the time that increased compliance is the ultimate goal and enforcement-oriented actions are not the only tool to achieve that goal.

Following up on its announcement, in June 2019 EPA issued its National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs) for fiscal year (FY) 2020-FY 2023, in which it established six priority areas as NCIs. EPA stated that it will utilize the full range of compliance assurance tools such as compliance assistance, self-audits and informal enforcement, but that formal enforcement will remain an important tool to address serious noncompliance and create general deterrence. Continue reading “EPA Turns from Enforcement to Compliance Initiatives”

Streamlining Pipeline Permitting

The United States is producing more and more crude oil and natural gas and will do so for the foreseeable future. However, oil and gas produced in remote areas must be transported to refineries or other facilities for processing or tank terminals for export.

Pipelines are the preferred method of transportation, due to their cost-effectiveness and overall safety record. Additional pipelines are needed to handle existing and future demand. Increasingly, though, the pipeline permitting process has become a battleground in which those who wish to hinder the use of fossil fuels take advantage of the existing statutory and regulatory framework to achieve those ends. One requirement in the Clean Water Act has increasingly been used as a weapon. Continue reading “Streamlining Pipeline Permitting”

Considerations for Environmental Due Diligence

Due diligence conducted when acquiring assets in a commercial transaction, whether the assets include property with existing operating facilities or undeveloped property on which a facility is to be constructed, is absolutely essential to ensuring the property does not contain unknown environmental liabilities and is suitable for the buyer’s intended use. Of course, the level of due diligence and the time and money spent on it will vary depending on the size and nature of the acquisition. But it should never be less than enough to obtain sufficient information about potential liabilities and future uses so a buyer may make an informed decision. Continue reading “Considerations for Environmental Due Diligence”

Some Siting Considerations In Louisiana

Finding the correct location for your industrial facility, such as a petrochemical plant or a landfill, requires balancing multiple considerations, including access to transportation routes for raw materials or goods, the cost of the property, and a host of other factors or criteria.  However, state and local governments in Louisiana have created their own siting requirements that extend well beyond normal economic considerations. Continue reading “Some Siting Considerations In Louisiana”

Definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Finally Proposed

EPA and the Corps of Engineers have finally proposed a new definition of “waters of the United States” to replace the Obama-era definition. The proposed definition is consistent with the executive order issued by President Trump in February 2017, which sought a regulatory definition similar to the more restrictive view of jurisdiction suggested by Justice Scalia in the Rapanos decision. Continue reading “Definition of ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Finally Proposed”

EPA Offers New Owners A New Hope

EPA is taking steps to further compliance and reduce emissions in the upstream oil and gas sector. It announced it is developing, and seeking comments on, a New Owner Clean Air Act Audit Policy (CAA Policy). Once implemented, new owners may conduct an in-depth audit of newly acquired facilities, correct identified violations or issues, and obtain a full civil penalty waiver for violations existing prior to the acquisition of the facility. Continue reading “EPA Offers New Owners A New Hope”