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California Oil, Gas Producer to Pay Fine In First Greenhouse Gas Enforcement Action

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A California oil and natural gas production company will pay $34,000 in penalties to resolve the Environmental Protection Agency's first greenhouse gas permitting violation, the agency said Dec. 10.

Vintage Production California LLC, a subsidiary of OXY USA Inc., self-reported the prevention of significant deterioration permitting violation at its Kern Front Oil Field located near Bakersfield, Calif., to EPA. The company failed to obtain the necessary prevention of significant deterioration permit for its greenhouse gas emissions after it constructed three steam generators at the oil field in late 2011.

Vintage Production California will obtain the necessary permits and pay the penalties to resolve the Clean Air Act violations. This is the first time EPA has resolved an enforcement action related to greenhouse gas permitting requirements, EPA spokesman Michael Ardito told BNA Dec. 10.

An OXY USA spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

“Companies need to be mindful of the relatively new permitting requirements,” Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Region 9 administrator, said in a statement. “Now that EPA has approved the prevention of significant deterioration permit program for the San Joaquin Valley, it simplifies the process.”

EPA delegated prevention of significant deterioration permitting authority to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in November.

New facilities that emit 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide-equivalent and existing facilities that increase their emissions by 75,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide-equivalent are required to obtain prevention of significant deterioration and Clean Air Act Title V operating permits as part of EPA's tailoring rule. The tailoring rule limits greenhouse gas permitting requirements to only the largest stationary sources of emissions (128 DER A-5, 7/5/12).

By Andrew Childers  

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