Washington, DC - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) temporarily expanded its voluntary self-audit and disclosure program for upstream oil and natural gas facilities by giving existing owners the opportunity to find, correct, and self-disclose Clean Air Act violations. EPA believes this self-audit program will motivate facilities to participate and start making the necessary changes to their equipment to address violations and return to compliance, improving air quality in surrounding communities.
“Upstream oil and natural gas facilities sometimes can have numerous emission violations. By temporarily expanding our self-audit program to existing owners, we expect more facilities to return to environmental compliance. This incentive to identify, correct, and self-disclose violations will provide additional public health and environmental protection in the surrounding communities,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine.
EPA is making this self-audit program available to existing owners of oil and natural gas exploration and production facilities for a limited period of 12 months to accelerate compliance, as part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative – Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants. Many of these facilities are in areas that do not meet one of EPA’s national ambient air quality standards or are at risk of not meeting one of these standards and have demonstrated widespread noncompliance. Incentive programs like this one provide drivers, such as reduced penalties for a limited time, and are used in combination with other tools, such as traditional enforcement, to ensure that any opportunities for relief are bolstered by deterrence.
In March 2019, EPA announced a voluntary disclosure program for new owners of upstream oil and natural gas exploration and facilities. The program was developed to encourage new owners of these facilities to participate because it provided regulatory certainty and clearly defined civil penalty mitigation beyond what was offered by the EPA’s existing self-disclosure policies.