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emissions

Natural Gas Processing Plants May Be Required to Disclose Chemical Releases

emissionsNatural gas processing facilities may soon have to report their chemical releases and other waste management activities to the EPA.

A proposed rule, published in the Federal Register this week, would add these facilities to the list of the industrial sectors required to file Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports. The EPA estimates that at least 282 natural gas processing facilities in the US would meet the TRI thresholds and thus be required to report TRI data under the rule.

TRI data is submitted annually from industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste.

This new rule proposes expanding coverage to all natural gas processing facilities, which receive and refine natural gas. Natural gas processing facilities that primarily recover sulfur from natural gas are already covered by TRI. Facilities primarily engaged in natural gas extraction — such as exploration and fracking — are not included in this proposal.

The EPA says facilities that would be covered by the new rule already deal with more than 21 TRI-covered chemicals. TRI reporting by these facilities would provide release and waste management data that would increase the amount of information available to the public.

The new rule comes in response to a 2012 petition filed by 17 environmental groups that asked the EPA to add the oil and gas extraction industry to the TRI. In 2015, the EPA agreed to propose adding natural gas processing facilities.

As the National Law Review reports, if the rule is finalized, “applicability depends on two remaining factors: (1) whether a facility has 10 or more full-time employees, and (2) whether a facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses listed toxic chemicals in amounts above relevant reporting threshold levels.”

The EPA is taking public comment on the proposal until March 7 and ultimately the Trump administration will review and finalize — or not — the rule.

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