No other organization in Oklahoma dedicates the manpower and resources to regulatory advocacy like The Petroleum Alliance. With dedicated staff members representing the interest of our members at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, other state regulatory agencies, and federal regulatory bodies, the work of The Alliance in the regulatory realm protects Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry from burdensome and unnecessary state and federal regulations.
The Alliance filed written comments at five federal agencies in 2022, including EPA, OSHA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Topics included Waters of the U.S., EPA’s proposal to withdraw and reconsider Oklahoma’s regulatory authority in Indian Country, EPA’s NSPS OOOOa/b/c rule, and the lesser prairie chicken.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Designation of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act as Hazardous Substances – The Alliance joined API and several other oil and gas trade groups to provide comments to EPA on its proposed rule to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA. These chemicals can be found in many products used in the oil and gas industry e.g., foams for firefighting and fire prevention activities at oil and gas sites, refineries, and many other facilities where there are flammable or combustible liquids. The coalition’s comments focused on several issues including EPA’s authority under CERCLA, EPA’s failure to consider the true costs and benefits, and EPA’s lack of consideration of numerous detrimental consequences e.g., the proposal would subject significant new areas of the country to CERCLA cleanup liability, delay existing cleanups, create waste stream management uncertainty, and potentially cause previously completed remediation projects to be reopened.
Proposed Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule (GHGRR) Revisions — On Oct. 6, The Alliance submitted comments to the EPA regarding its proposed revisions to the GHGRR. Though some of the changes were positive, The Alliance had concerns with the current requirements and proposed revisions that contain emission factors and estimation methodologies that do not reflect actual emissions. More exact emission data will become important when operators begin to pay methane fees in accordance with the Inflation Reduction Act.
Proposed 401 Certification Rule — On Aug. 8, The Alliance submitted comments to EPA regarding its proposed 401 Certification Rule. Federal agencies cannot issue a license or permit to conduct any activity that involves the discharge into waters of the United States unless a state or tribe with treatment as a state (TAS) where the discharge would originate grants either a Section 401 certification that the discharge will comply with applicable provisions of the Clean Water Act or waives certification. EPA’s proposed TAS process for tribes to obtain 401 certification authority does not address the current regulatory authority the State of Oklahoma obtained through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 and approved by EPA in 2020. The Alliance also worked with the American Petroleum Institute and other trades to develop technical comments on EPA’s proposed rule.
Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) Addressing Regional Ozone Transport for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard — The Alliance submitted comments to EPA on its proposed FIP for Oklahoma. For the first time, EPA proposed to regulate non-electric generating units that include requirements for certain natural gas-fired, spark-ignition reciprocating internal combustion engines with a maximum rated capacity of 1,000 horsepower or greater in the natural gas pipeline transportation sector. The Alliance requested EPA approve Oklahoma’s original State Implementation Plan (SIP) on ozone transport or allow the State to revise its SIP. In addition, The Alliance requested EPA work closely with the State of Oklahoma to ensure that the regulation of pipeline emission sources is necessary, limit requirements on pipelines to the ozone season, and extend the compliance deadline for pipelines to at least May 2027.
Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) — On Feb. 7, The Alliance submitted comments to EPA and the Army regarding their proposed WOTUS rule that defines those waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal “generally” returns the requirements to the pre-2015 rule, but it also includes amendments. Those amendments expand the scope of WOTUS and the Agencies’ jurisdiction beyond the pre-2015 rule. The proposed rule may require oil and gas operators to obtain more CWA Sec. 404 permits (e.g., for pipelines, roads, well locations) and develop more Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plans. The Alliance submitted comments opposing the proposed rule as it does not establish clear boundaries of WOTUS or provide regulatory certainty, consistency and predictability for our members.
Proposal to Withdraw and Reconsider Oklahoma’s Regulatory Authority in Indian Country — On Jan. 31, The Alliance submitted comments to EPA requesting it drop its proposal to withdraw and reconsider its October 2020 approval of Oklahoma’s request to extend its EPA-delegated environmental regulatory programs into certain areas of Indian country within the State under Section 10211(a) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (SAFETEA). The Alliance’s comments focused on EPA’s approval process i.e., it was conducted consistent with SAFETEA, the approval provides an efficient, effective, and consistent means of implementing EPA-delegated environmental regulatory programs across Oklahoma, and it provides the necessary regulatory consistency and certainty for all stakeholders.
Proposed New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) OOOO a/b/c Rule — On Jan. 31, The Alliance submitted comments to EPA regarding its proposed NSPS OOOO a/b/c rule. The Alliance’s comments focused on a number of issues, but in general, The Alliance emphasized the need for requirements that are reasonable, practical, provide operators flexibility, and are economical to implement by all sizes of oil and gas businesses, especially small oil and gas operators.
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Proposed Compensatory Mitigation Mechanisms Rule – On Sept. 26, The Alliance submitted joint comments with API, the Alaska Oil & Gas Association and Western Energy Alliance regarding the FWS’s proposed Compensatory Mitigation Mechanisms rule. The trade groups provided several comments, but in general, stated that a “one size fits all” approach should not apply to all compensatory mitigation mechanisms as such an approach may favor a particular type of compensatory mitigation over other effective approaches, and may deter participants from engaging in compensatory mitigation as it will be more costly, complex, burdensome, opaque, and unpredictable.
Designation of Experimental Populations — On Aug. 8, The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma and Western Energy Alliance submitted comments to the FWS regarding its proposed rule to designate experimental populations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Our comments expressed concern that the proposed experimental population rule, in combination with additional proposed and finalized changes to the ESA’s implementing regulations, will unnecessarily and unreasonably expand the scope of the ESA and FWS’s ability to limit development within certain habitats, will be used to needlessly introduce imperiled species into producing oil and gas basins without a history of the lands supporting such species and without reasonable expectations that the experimental populations will survive, and it may be used as a tool to hinder or entirely block oil and gas development in existing producing areas.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings – On Jan. 26, The Alliance submitted comments on OSHA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to address heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings. Since no specific rule text was provided in the ANPRM, The Alliance’s comments were general in nature. We encouraged OSHA to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” rule, focus its efforts on improving current processes and programs in place, develop additional non-regulatory efforts and work with states experiencing the most significant issues to enhance worker safety as it relates to heat injury and illness.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Climate-related Disclosure Rule — On June 16, The Alliance submitted comments to the SEC regarding its Proposed Climate-related Disclosure Rule. The Alliance opposed the Rule; however, we provided a number of comments and recommendations. For example, we requested SEC use the same information companies submit to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, remove subjective data requirements to reduce liability and litigation, provide longer implementation time frames, justify how Scope 3 emissions are material to investors, analyze the cost impacts on private companies and small businesses, and allow companies to furnish (not file) information.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE)
Request for Input — On Aug. 2, The Alliance submitted comments to the COE regarding its request for input that will be used to inform future rulemaking efforts related to several issues, including rulemaking actions regarding the COE’s Regulatory Program (e.g., Nationwide Permits and Jurisdictional Determinations) that focuses on National Historic Preservation Act, environmental justice and Tribal consultations. Since no rule text was proposed by the COE, The Alliance’s comments were general in nature.
Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 — On May 27, The Alliance submitted comments to the COE regarding its formal review of NWP 12 for Oil or Natural Gas Pipeline Activities. In general, NWPs streamline the permitting process for certain activities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 that have minimal individual and cumulative impacts to the environment. The Alliance’s comments requested the COE discontinue its review and maintain NWP 12 as it currently exists since NWP 12 was updated in January 2021, a comprehensive review was conducted by the COE at that time, and there is no regulatory deadline or widespread, pervasive need warranting yet another revision so soon.