Louisiana has over 43,000 active oil and natural gas wells and thousands of facilities that produce, process and transport oil and natural gas from these sites. This large population of facilities is predominantly small businesses representing over 70 percent of facilities permitted or otherwise regulated by the Air and Water programs of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LADEQ). Many of these facilities may be unpermitted and operating without proper monitoring, record keeping or best management practices. LADEQ has concerns over the resources invested to date in regulating these facilities and the effectiveness of current approaches in achieving environmental improvement in this sector. This concern is amplified by the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the State’s economy, resulting in a decline in the Department’s resources that will continue for the foreseeable future. There is also strong industry interest in LADEQ’s adoption of a comprehensive multi-media approach to environmental regulation, and strong community interest in improving facility regulation to protect public heath and the environment. In light of these concerns and shrinking resources, the State needs to develop innovative and effective environmental improvement tools.
Through the use of the Environmental Results Program (ERP), the LADEQ will enhance it's traditional permitting processes by creating on-line air and water permit application and self-certification modules to promote timely submission of permit applications and corresponding response by the LDEQ. In addition, air and water regulatory requirements for the oil and gas production industry will be compiled into a multi-media compliance handbook for ease of use by industry representatives. These features will be developed with full input from the industry in order to ensure the final work product is one that is most useful to them. The ERP program will further the State’s goals of improving the environmental stewardship of participating oil and gas production facilities while reducing the permitting and financial burden of both the industry and the LADEQ. This concept is anticipated to be tranferable to other regulatory components (e.g., electronic submittal of monitorng reports, payment of permit fees) and other media (e.g., waste handling, radiological). The final versions of all associated work products will be statistically evaluated for effectiveness.