Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/11/1996 03:37 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 38 TOXINS RELEASE INVENTORY PROGRAM CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:37 p.m. and announced SJR 38 to be up for consideration. He explained this is a result of information he and Senator Pearce found at the Energy Council meeting in Washington, D.C. Mark Rubin, American Petroleum Institute, informed them that the EPA is proposing to expand the TRI Program to include oil and gas exploration and production as well as some other categories. The downside to this is that it will likely make oil and gas producers the biggest polluters in the state because they are pulling from a formation and treat the oil and the gas and separate it and take the produced water and produced gas and reinject it. It doesn't make any sense to have to monitor, test, and report that as a toxic release. Number 44 MARK RUBIN testified that Toxins Release Program currently requires that a number of manufacturing industries report for 651 toxic chemicals. The EPA is considering whether to put additional industries into this program including the oil and gas exploration and production industry. They would have to report for about 80 chemicals, some of which occur naturally in oil, gas, and produced water, like benzene or tylene. If they expand this to the exploration and production (E&P) industry, API estimates about 4,700 or more facilities would have to report. The first year cost to the industry would be about $228 million; annual costs thereafter would be about $110 million per year. The average cost for offshore oil and gas would be about $58,000 in the first year and about $8,000 each year thereafter. They believe strongly that the TRI Program is not really designed for the E&P industries. It is designed more for businesses that are in close proximity to communities and most E&P facilities are away from communities or offshore and they have very few releases to the environment. EPA believes that the TRI Program has been a great success and one of the reasons because there was a voluntary reduction in releases from some of the facilities that report. The largest releases from E&P would be naturally occurring constituents of oil, gas, and water. Reducing those releases would be close to impossible without shutting in wells. The industry is not opposed to providing more information to the public, and they have recommended to the EPA that instead of expanding the TRI Program that they look at what type of information is really needed by the public working with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, the State Regulators Commission, and include EPA officials. Number 128 FAYE SULLIVAN, Environmental Scientist, UNOCAL, said they support SJR 38. She said the original TRI was established to provide information to the public about potential chemical releases as a risk of these releases to the local community. It's not appropriate to expand TRI reporting to the oil and gas industry which generally operates in remote areas or offshore. Oil and gas facilities have limited release potential and present a very low risk to the public. Typical oil and gas reportable releases would include discharges of produced water, underground injection of waste, and air emissions from combustion sources. All of these activities are currently strictly regulated by existing federal and state programs. Use of chemicals can vary in the oil and gas industry from day to day and week to week. Expanding the TRI Program would force operators to conduct regular expensive waste removal tests with very little environmental benefit. Many old fields are marginal now and their expected life is decreased with each additional regulatory burden placed on them. MARK WHEELER, Alaska Environmental Lobby, said they support free and easy access to information on toxic chemical releases. They commend EPA's efforts to increase the scope of their reports to include other industries with high potential for toxic pollution including mining facilities, waste management facilities, and electric utilities. He urged the legislature to reject this resolution and to help the public gain more knowledge, not less about toxic releases into our air and water. SENATOR PEARCE moved to pass SJR 38 with individual recommendations and a $0 fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered.