What Legislative Changes Can Oil and Gas Companies Operating in California Expect in 2017?

Wed Apr 19th, On Environmental Law, by

The period for California legislators to introduce bills for consideration during the first half of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session recently closed, and there are several notable environmental regulatory proposals for companies in the oil and gas industry. Here are some of the highlights:

New Reporting Requirements to DOSH

Under the California Refinery and Chemical Plant Worker Safety Act of 1990 (the “Act”), petroleum refineries in California are required to submit detailed annual schedules to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), and must provide specified documentation relating to planned turnarounds upon request. Assembly Bill 55 would amend the Act to require submission of all required documentation upon request, and to include a requirement for the submitted documentation to demonstrate compliance with the Act’s workforce requirements. Violation of the Act would remain a misdemeanor offense.

New Oil Spill Contingency Plan Standards

Assembly Bill 1197 proposes to establish a new class of entity referred to as a spill management team (SMT) which is subject to classification by the state administrator for oil spill response, and to require all oil spill contingency plans in California to identify at least one SMT at each established level of classification. If this environmental regulatory process is enacted, it would affect each, “owner or operator of a facility, small marine fueling facility, or mobile transfer unit, or an owner or operator of a tank vessel, nontank vessel, or vessel carrying oil as secondary cargo, while operating in the waters of the state or where a spill could impact waters of the state.”

New Air Monitoring System Obligations for Petroleum Refineries

Introduced on the final day of the proposal window, Assembly Bill 1647 would establish two new air monitoring system requirements for petroleum refineries operating in California. Refineries would be required to install fence-line monitoring systems by 2019, and install community air monitoring systems by 2020. The bill defines each of these systems as follows:

(1) “Community air monitoring system” means equipment that measures and records air pollutant concentrations in the ambient air at or near sensitive receptor locations near a petroleum refinery and that may be useful for estimating associated pollutant exposures and health risks and in determining trends in air pollutant levels over time.

(2) “Fence-line monitoring system” means equipment that measures and records air pollutant concentrations along the property boundary of a petroleum refinery and that may be useful for detecting or estimating the quantity of fugitive emissions, gas leaks, and other air emissions from the refinery.

Revisions to GVWR Emissions Standards

Under existing state law governing emissions of air contaminants, a heavy-duty vehicle is defined as any vehicle having a manufacturer’s maximum gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,001 or more pounds, and vehicle of lesser weight is considered a light-duty vehicle. Assembly Bill 476 would create an intermediate class of medium-duty vehicles, with definition of each class as follows:

  • Heavy-Duty Vehicles: 26,001 pounds or greater GVWR
  • Medium-Duty Vehicles: 10,001 to 26,000 pounds GVWR
  • Light-Duty Vehicles: 10,000 pounds or less GVWR

Our California environmental regulatory lawyers will continue to monitor these and other bills affecting companies in the energy sector for further developments.

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