On March 29, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its final Oil & Natural Gas Exploration and Production Facilities New Owner Audit Program Agreement (Oil & Gas New Owner Audit Policy, or Policy). This voluntary program provides total civil penalty mitigation for qualified new owners of upstream oil and natural gas well sites (including associated storage tanks and air pollution control equipment) who agree to identify and correct Clean Air Act noncompliance at their newly acquired facilities.
The Policy marks a departure from the Obama-era EPA’s reduced emphasis on auditing and self-disclosure. It also marks the first time that the agency has proposed complete penalty forgiveness – including mitigation of economic benefit penalties – for entities that disclose and correct violations in conformance with the guidelines.
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