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Interagency Working Group on Alaska Energy

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Environmental Protection Agency

Overview of agency mission and activities

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect public health and the environment through all of the statutory programs that the Agency implements.  The mission of the Region 10 Alaska Oil and Gas Sector is to ensure timely and effective action to oil and gas sector issues and permit applications.  This is accomplished by coordinating and integrating the numerous  EPA programs involved in Oil and Gas actions.  

Primary relevant mandates

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for administering a wide range of environmental laws. EPA responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following.

Clean Air Act (CAA) : Section 309: reviewing and commenting on NEPA documents  for major federal actions and; Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permits: oversight authority of state issued CAA Title V operating permits; direct permitting authority in federal waters. Section 112(r): through the Risk Management Program ensure safe storage and adequate response capability for storage of dangerous chemicals over certain thresholds.

Clean Water Act (CWA): Section 402: The EPA maintains National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority for oil and gas activities in Alaska  onshore and state waters until program transfer to the Department of Environmental Conservation in October 2012.  EPA retains authority to issue NPDES permits in federal waters; Section 404: co-administers the regulatory program requiring authorization for discharge of dredge or fill material into all waters of the U.S., including review of US Army Corps permit decisions.

Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA):  Section 102, 103: designating and managing ocean disposal sites for dredged material (sediments) and other material such as fish waste and vessels.

Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA): protects underground sources of drinking water (USDW’s) through issuance of 5 different Classes of permits for the injection of wastes below ground.  EPA issues Class 1 permits, with partial program delegation to Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): Wastes produced by oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) activities are solid wastes specifically exempted from hazardous waste regulation in accordance with 40 CFR § 261(b)(5).  However, wastes produced ancillary to E&P activities (e.g. paints, solvents, and lubricating fluids used in building and vehicle maintenance, photographic production wastes, lab and medical wastes, etc.) are subject to hazardous waste regulation and permitting.  

Emergency Preparedness and Response:  Under the CWA, Oil Pollution Act (OPA)and  National Contingency Plan (NCP), respond to spills and threat of spills to waters of the US.  Prevent and prepare for oil spills under the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations and Facility Response Plan (FRP) regulations  (hundreds of facilities and thousands of miles of pipeline).  Serve as Chair of the National Response Team and  as Co-Chair to the Alaska Regional Response Team, ensuring effective and coordinated spill contingency planning and preparedness by Local, State, Federal and industry entities.  EPA FOSCs lead the inland Area Contingency Planning process and are on call 24/7 for spill response.

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