Regulatory agencies are still working.
Before oil prices tanked and the pandemic hit, oil and gas regulatory agencies were issuing (alleged) violations and administering fines for compliance issues at a higher rate than we have seen in the past. These violations, while minor in nature, are predominantly due to missing paperwork and missed deadlines for filing paperwork. SO much paperwork is required for compliance…
However, now that the EPA issued an Enforcement Discretion Policy, agencies are also issuing statements in response that while they may be “exercising enforcement discretion” and allowing “administrative relief” they are still expecting companies to comply with permit conditions to the best of their abilities and ensure ongoing protection of public health and the environment.
The current problem for some companies:
- Keeping up with routine monitoring
- Getting lab reports/analysis conducted
- Loss of key staff due to illness or travel restrictions
Three tips to manage compliance risk:
- Establish compliance priorities based on resources – review where your resource gaps are and what compliance tasks are tied to those resources. Any operation that has direct effect on human health and/or safe operations comes first. Continued proper operation of all facility equipment is next. Lastly, monitoring, testing and reporting to comply with specific permit conditions (i.e. specific pollutant limits)
- Reach out to the agency – most agencies encourage contact with their regulated community to discuss ability to comply with specific requirements; they are reviewing on a case-by-case basis.
- Document the impact of COVID-19 and any disruption of operations. This is highly critical during this time as enforcement of any lapse in regulatory compliance technically is at the discretion of each agency.
While agency staff are mostly working remotely and things like hearings are cancelled or postponed or they may be waiving late submittals, agencies expect companies continue to comply and report per their requirements and will get right back to enforcement as soon as practical.
TCO can answer your compliance questions, contact us today!