In a recent INSIDEEPA.COM article as well as other publications, sources predict that 2013 may see increased EPA enforcement based on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions.
With a number of GHG-related regulations already on the books and more nearing finalization, EPA’s recent focus on GHG rulemaking may ripen into significant GHG enforcement. In particular, the federal government’s mandatory reporting requirements for GHGs may provide an especially inviting enforcement target now that EPA possesses industry data over multiple years, i.e., to better inform an assessment of whether reported information is accurate. PSD enforcement efforts based on the Tailoring Rule may also appear with greater frequency, especially when combined with EPA cases involving other criteria pollutants (such as particulate, NOx, SO2, etc.). In sum, 2013 is viewed as a potential transition year given the increasing opportunities for GHG-based enforcement.
That said, one could argue that GHG Enforcement is already underway … sort of. According to a December 10, 2012 EPA press release:
[V]iolations were identified and self-disclosed by [a California oil and gas production company], and occurred in late 2011, when the company constructed three steam generators at the oil field without first obtaining a permit for greenhouse gas emissions under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program.
This GHG enforcement matter resulted in a $34,000 civil penalty, though it remains to be seen whether it is a harbinger of increased GHG enforcement by EPA in the coming year.