USEPA Proposes Amendments to EPCRA Regarding Natural Gas Processing Facilities
On January 6, 2017, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) opened for public comment a new draft rule expanding the reporting requirements contained in section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) to include natural gas processors (NGP) and specifically natural gas liquids extraction facilities.
Among the factors considered by USEPA when considering modifications to the reporting requirements are whether the facility in question is likely to use or store a listed chemical and whether the inclusion of the new facility group would generally increase public knowledge and information and further the purposes of EPCRA.
USEPA estimates that at least 282 NGP facilities would meet EPCRA’s minimum thresholds related to employees and the use/storage of at least one chemical found on the Toxic Release Inventory List. The chemicals regularly used at these facilities which would require regular record keeping would include n-hexane, hydrogen sulfide, toluene, benzene, xylene, and methanol.
USEPA’s reasoning for these changes are the number of facilities currently utilizing these chemicals and the need to assure that the public is aware of these facilities, including local emergency responders. Using information gathered from a triennial survey of NGP facilities by the United States Energy Information Administration, the EPA indicated that there were 517 NGP facilities located in the United States and that it was anticipated that more than half would meet the minimum threshold for reporting under the new rule and would be required to submit information to the EPA.
Comments regarding the draft rule must be received on or before March 7, 2017.