December 04, 2018 Articles

Aux Sable: EPA’s Continued Focus on Leak Detection and Repair in Energy Industry

The Aux Sable action may indicate an enforcement trend throughout the industry.

By Charles Wehland and Will Taylor

On October 29, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against Aux Sable Liquid Products LP in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging violations of various state and federal air pollution statutes and regulations in connection with Aux Sable’s natural gas processing plant located outside of Chicago. United States v. Aux Sable Liquid Prods. L.P.,No. 1:18-cv-7198 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 29, 2018). On the same day, the government also filed a proposed consent decree negotiated by the parties and announced a settlement that includes agreed injunctive relief to control emissions and pay $2.7 million in civil penalties.

While the EPA described Aux Sable’s processing facility as one of the largest in the country and emphasized that there was a “huge underestimate of VOC emissions” at the time of the plant’s construction that led to substantial annual violations, this action is likely not an aberration. The EPA for some time has been focused on leak detection, and the Aux Sable action may indicate an enforcement trend throughout the industry.

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