On March 29, 2019, U.S. EPA finalized a New Owner Clean Air Act (CAA) Audit Program for new owners of upstream oil and natural gas exploration and production facilities – i.e. well sites, tank batteries, and vapor control systems (the “Program”). The Program encourages new owners voluntarily to conduct a self-audit of newly acquired facilities, and identify, correct and self-disclose CAA violations to U.S. EPA in accordance with the Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production Facilities New Owner Audit Program Agreement (“Agreement”).
In order to participate in the Program, new owners must meet certain eligibility requirements and notify U.S. EPA within nine months following the acquisition of covered facilities regarding their intent to participation in the Program. Under the Agreement, U.S. EPA will not impose a civil penalty for CAA violations that are properly disclosed and corrected. The Agreement requires vapor control system-related violations to be corrected within 180-days of discovery, and other violations to be corrected within 60-days of discovery. It should be noted that U.S. EPA reserves the right to enter into an Agreement if the Agency or a states has already discovered CAA noncompliance at newly-acquired facilities.