New EPA policy would offer alternative to penalties for some oil, gas polluters

Articles The Hill

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of enforcement will soon unveil a new finalized audit policy that will offer significant new penalty reductions for the oil and gas industry, according to two internal memos obtained by The Hill.

The New Owner Clean Air Act Audit Program, tailored specifically for oil and natural gas producers, will focus on offering more flexibility to new company owners who choose to self-audit their emissions and report any failures to meet EPA’s regulations, according to the December draft memos for the new policy.

The policy originally was slated to be rolled out in late December but was delayed due to the partial government shutdown, according to an EPA source with knowledge.

“Policy finalization has been delayed; we can provide more details when we have a final policy to announce,” an  EPA spokesperson said of the rule.

The flexibilities include giving new owners of oil and gas companies nine months since the company is acquired to come forward to the EPA and announce any emissions issues they believe may exist. That’s an increase from the six months the agency first proposed in its original draft template of the rule.

Companies would also be given 180 days from the date of discovery to correct the emissions issue. The previous draft gave companies 60 days.

The policy proposal was first reported by The Hill and unveiled last April