Environmental Regulations: How Much Do They Really Cost?Source: Hydrocarbon Processing | 18 November 2014
It is not unusual for some hydrocarbon processors to make environmental compliance activities a lower priority than daily operational needs, such as plant maintenance, product flow, and product transport. After all, compliance does not directly generate profit. Although not all owners/operators intentionally ignore environmental compliance, this mode of operating has been seen in the industry throughout the years—until now.
In the past decade, a great shift has occurred in hydrocarbon processors’ operating environments. As America’s robust oil and gas market expands—combined with increased international competition and unending news coverage of “environmentally unsound” industry practices—the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased compliance enforcement, enacting nearly 78 civil cases and settlements in 2013 alone.
Furthermore, the EPA is considering a diverse array of new rules and regulatory program obligations to achieve the US’ long-term environmental goals. Recent examples include the Obama administration’s September 2013 announcement that it will direct the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to cut carbon dioxide pollution at power plants under the Climate Action Plan.
In the wake of this evolving and dynamic regulatory environment, owners/operators can spend a considerable amount of time and resources attempting to understand and comply with new or revised rules and regulatory program obligations. Instead of investing in new equipment or totally refocusing their processes, hydrocarbon processors should instead grasp some understanding of the costs and benefits by asking themselves: “How much will these changes really cost, and what’s in it for me?”