In December we saw in this space that a US Environmental Protection Agency inventory showed solid reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in recent years. Now EPA has issued its annual Climate Protection Partnerships report, which contains more good news on the emissions front.
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
Canadian regulators are focusing their attention on facilitating development in the oil and gas industry, and they are also increasing the accountability of operators. Significantly, environmental liability insurance requirements are expected to increase for both pipeline and railway operators, reducing the extent to which governments and taxpayers cover the costs of cleanup and other damages caused by spills and accidents.
Effective November 21, 2013, EPA exempted 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (also known as HFO–1234yf) from the regulatory definition of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This compound will not be counted as a VOC for entities using or producing HFO–1234yf in a product other than an aerosol coating, limiting the VOC emissions from a facility, or otherwise controlling the use of VOC for purposes related to attaining the ozone NAAQS. Emissions of this compound will not be considered in determining whether a proposed new or modified source triggers the applicability of Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements, in areas where the PSD program is implemented by the EPA or a delegated state, local, or tribal agency. This action may also affect whether HFO–1234yf is considered a VOC for state regulatory purposes, depending on whether the state relies on the EPA’s regulatory definition of VOCs.
Advances in field techniques have recently made hydraulic fracturing— “fracking”—a major part of energy production in the United States and Canada. Frackers pump high-pressure fluids into rock formations to expand cracks and create pathways for valuable hydrocarbons to flow out. The stimulant fluids are usually water-based, with additional chemicals (acids, surfactants, biocides, etc.) to improve effectiveness and solid ‘proppants’ to prop open the expanded openings (sand, etc.). Read my earlier blog here
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates thousands of chemicals, through a variety of regulatory standards. At the broadest level, employers must evaluate basic information about every potentially hazardous chemical, and provide information to employees in compliance with OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA also provides somewhat-more-tailored requirements for classes of chemicals (such as flammables), and for types of activities that pose chemical hazards (such as welding). For a small number of especially hazardous chemicals, OSHA provides a detailed standard applicable to a single chemical—examples include asbestos, benzene, and lead. On September 12, 2013, OSHA published a proposal to establish just such a single chemical standard, for crystalline silica (29 CFR section 1910.1053).
Recently, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new series of notices concerning hazardous materials handling and driver recordkeeping procedures. CMV drivers and transporters of hazardous materials should be alert to the following: