Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to send information collection requests, called “ICRs,” to thousands of oil and gas operators in Kansas and across the country. ICRs are a tool the EPA can use under the Clean Air Act to obtain information from individuals and organizations for the purpose of developing new air emissions standards and regulations. EPA has stated the purpose of this ICR is to gather information in order to eventually promulgate new air regulations limiting emissions of methane gas from existing oil and gas facilities. Oil and gas facilities include wells, compressors, separators, sweeteners, storage tanks, and pneumatic controls and pumps. Operators can expect to receive the first of these new ICRs before the end of 2016.
EPA has identified the operators who will receive the first part of this new ICR on its website, available at https://oilandgasicr.rti.org. There are two parts to this ICR. Part I is called the operator survey. It requires an inventory of all oil and gas facilities as well as the number of wells, separators, storage tanks, and compressors at each facility. Part I must be completed and submitted to EPA within 30 days of receiving it.
Part II is the detailed facility survey. It will go to operators of selected oil and gas facilities that, in EPA’s opinion, constitute a representative sample of the domestic United States oil and gas industry. Any facility that is selected to receive Part II will be exempted from having to complete Part I. Part II is much more detailed and demanding than Part I. It requires a wide variety of specific information, including for example, equipment counts and measurement data. Part II must be completed and submitted to EPA within 120 days of receiving it. Both Parts I and II are available for viewing on EPA’s website, available at https://www.epa.gov/controlling-air-pollution-oil-and-natural-gas-industry/oil-and-gas-industry-information-requests.
Failure to respond to an ICR, which is sometimes also called a Section 114 letter, could carry penalties under the Clean Air Act of up to $93,750 per day of violation. Obviously, oil and gas operators face significant liability for failure to properly respond to these ICRs. The counsel of an experienced oil and gas environmental lawyer may prove helpful in answering the ICR.
November 21, 2016