Proposed rule gives feds undue authority over offshore air

BIC MagazineBIC Magazine | August 4, 2016 | Lori LeBlanc

Here we go again.

With only five months until a new president takes office, the current administration is taking another swing at the offshore oil and gas industry. This latest punch is once again an overreaching, misguided rule developed with limited public input that drastically impacts the future sustainability of our domestic energy supply with no apparent benefits. Unfortunately, hits like these keep on coming, and no one feels them more than our American energy workers whose jobs depend on a vibrant oil and gas industry.

Earlier this year, we told you about the proposed new well control rule that was technically flawed and could have unintended consequences that further risk safety in the Gulf and result in huge economic losses to communities that service the offshore industry. With very limited public input and despite pleas from coastal communities, the troubling well control rule was finalized and issued by the Department of Interior (DOI) in April.

This time, DOI’s BOEM is aggressively overextending its authority over offshore air quality with a rule that will significantly increase the tracking, reporting and regulation of air emissions in the Gulf without any measureable benefits to air quality in our communities here at home.

On April 5, BOEM published the 350- page proposed rule on Air Quality Control, Reporting and Compliance, which revises the agency’s existing air quality regulations on offshore oil and gas operations and unnecessarily increases operators’ compliance burden. More specifically, the rule requires tracking and reporting emissions of all pollutants defined by the EPA, applies National Ambient Air Quality Standards to all offshore facilities and support vessels, expands recordkeeping and performance measures; changes requirements for what emissions must be reported in operators’ plans and replaces the air pollution control standards in current regulations.

The rule also requires vessel operators, for the first time, to record and report vessel emissions that will then be attributed as emissions from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) stationary facility itself. This is above and beyond what EPA requires for land-based facilities and would be akin to EPA tracking the emissions of trucks and trains and attributing those emissions to the factory receiving what the trucks and trains delivered.

Read the full op-ed here.

Lori LeBlanc is the Offshore Committee Director of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. 


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