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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would tighten up pollution regulations for oil and gas facilities and equipment after being sued by environmental groups.
The EPA agreed this week by way of a consent decree to take another look at its emissions rules relating to oil and gas storage, production, and transmission facilities.
The Sierra Club, California Communities Against Toxic, and the Coalition for a Safe Environment filed a lawsuit last spring alleging that the EPA violated Section 304(a) of the Clean Air Act by failing to review its rules every 8 years, but had not taken any review since 2012.
The lawsuit also alleges that the 2012 rules failed to cover all of the oil and gas operations and equipment that could emit pollutants, including storage tanks or oil wells.
The plaintiffs asked the court to force the EPA to consider requiring new leak monitoring technologies and processes, as well as what they considered to be loopholes that don’t hold oil and gas companies responsible when emissions violations stem from equipment malfunctions.
“failing to perform its non-discretionary duties” to review National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Oil and Natural Gas Production and Natural Gas Transmission and Storage and delaying “unreasonably” a reconsideration of the plaintiffs’ 2012 petition for reconsideration of the final rule Oil and Natural Gas Sector: New Source Performance Standards and National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Reviews.
The EPA said it would propose and finalize new rules next year and in 2025, although it did not agree to make any specific changes.
Republican Environment and Public Works Committee, in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, provided consequences and analyses of increased oil and natural gas emissions regulations, including reduced oil and natural gas production and increased costs for consumers.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.