Recently released data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s National Enforcement Initiative demonstrate how intensely EPA’s enforcement program is focused on the oil and gas industry, especially within key shale plays and basins.
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More specifically, this map overlays the location of concluded enforcement actions and inspections and evaluations between fiscal years 2011 and 2014 over the boundaries of major shale plays and basins. Individual data points include the year of the action, the site, its program ID, latitude and longitude, and a link to the online detailed facility report. For concluded enforcement actions, data on enforcement is available through the detailed facility report.
There were 723 EPA inspections and evaluations in the energy industry in fiscal year 2014, slightly higher than in 2013 (673 inspections and evaluations), but still less than in 2012 (870 inspections and evaluations). Concluded enforcement actions, however, have been in decline, from 53 in 2012 to 36 in 2013, and, finally, 24 in 2014. As EPA faces the potential of a substantially smaller budget and staffing level, enforcement authorities will have to target their efforts to ensure that individual cases make the largest impact. Regardless of budget constraints, EPA is not expected to stop targeting the oil and gas industry for enforcement and inspections. In fact, a key component of EPA’s recently released methane strategy is an increase in compliance inspections in the upstream sector.