Cheap Oil and Gas Spark Industrial Boom

U.S. oil and gas production has increased more than fifty percent in the last decade thanks to the hydro-fracturing of shale deposits that’s pushing output to record levels.  Unsurprisingly, this is driving investment in the industrial infrastructure needed to turn all that oil and gas into fuel, chemicals, and other high-value products. The Environmental Integrity Project has created a public database to track the environmental and human health impacts of 275 of the largest projects to build or expand capacity at gas processors, liquefied natural gas terminals, refineries, petrochemical plants, and fertilizer manufacturers.

Monitoring the Industry’s Growth

Concentrated in corridors along the Gulf Coast and increasingly the Appalachian Ohio River Valley, these industrial hubs are major sources of greenhouse gases as well as emissions that contribute to local air pollution.  They may also increase the risk of dangerous explosions or toxic leaks from facilities that are poorly managed or overwhelmed by hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters. EIP hopes the database can be used to help monitor the industry during this critical period of growth, which is happening especially rapidly under the anti-regulation, industry-friendly Trump Administration.

Our current database identifies 228 projects that have been issued final major Clean Air Act construction permits since 2012 that authorize almost 206 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. EIP is also tracking 52 additional projects that have requested authorization to emit nearly 71 million tons of greenhouse gases on an annual basis. Combined, these 280 projects have the potential to emit over 276 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. That’s equivalent to the carbon output from 71 new coal-fired power plants running around the clock.  

Our database summarizes each project, tallies up the greenhouse gas and “criteria pollutant” emission increases from these construction permits and applications, and provides access to hundreds of electronic permit documents we’ve obtained from state and federal agencies.


Potential Emission Increases (tons per year) of CO2e and criteria air pollutants:

Status # CO2e NOx SO2 VOC CO PM2.5
Final Approvals Issued 228 205,975,921 41,645 5,712 25,985 77,239 8,949
Draft and Pending Applications 52 70,899,692 23,643 5,553 102,323 54,911 5,468
Total 280 276,875,613 65,288 11,265 123,308 132,150 14,417

 

Map of New or Expanded Oil and Gas Industrial Infrastructure

View project locations on the map below. Zoom in and click on a facility marker to explore each project, view its permitted emission increases, and link to permit documents. You can view the map legend and turn on demographic and political boundary layers by clicking on the layers and legend icons below the search box. View, filter, and download data using the attributes icon.

 

The circles on the map above are new oil and gas infrastructure projects, such as processing plants and compressor stations, that have been granted permits for construction. The squares are proposed projects that are seeking approval. The larger the shape, the greater the projected greenhouse gas emissions. The orange color signifies natural gas projects; yellow are oil projects; purple are petrochemical and plastics plants; blue are liquid natural gas export facilities; and the green are nitrogen fertilizer and explosives plants.

Background and Methodology

The projects in question are designed to enable facilities to perform a wide range of operations, including: compressing or processing natural gas, natural gas liquids, and condensate; liquefying natural gas for export; converting liquids or natural gas into petrochemical feedstocks, fertilizer, herbicides, explosives, or plastic resins; or exporting or refining crude oil.

The facilities in the database are either brand new or are being expanded, and have obtained or are seeking major “New Source Review” permits under the Clean Air Act that limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Under federal law, these permitting requirements are triggered by any project likely to increase GHG emissions more than 75,000 tons per year while also significantly increasing emissions of certain “criteria” pollutants known to harm public health. We have included 28 projects that were issued or applied for GHG PSD permits that have been rescinded after a 2014 Supreme Court decision.

The criteria pollutants—which include particulate matter (including fine particles) nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)—are regulated pursuant to health-based air quality standards established under the Clean Air Act.  According to the National Institutes of Health, air pollution exposure is associated with a wide array of health effects, including “respiratory diseases (including asthma and changes in lung function), cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as preterm birth), and even death.”

The potential emission increases and point locations are from each facility’s Federal Clean Air Act New Source Review or Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit(s) or application(s), or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The database also includes estimates of demographic characteristics within 1 and 3 miles of each facility. Those were calculated from EPA’s EJSCREEN census block-level dataset and the American Community Survey.


Download Data and Documents:

Download the full data set here in Excel

Last updated 10/15/2019

View Permit Documents

Suggested citation: “Environmental Integrity Project. (2019, October 15). Emission Increase Database. Retrieved from https://www.environmentalintegrity.org/oil-gas-infrastructure-emissions.”


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Related EIP Reports and Press Releases:

31 New or Expanded Petrochemical Plants Approved in Hurricane Zone along TX and LA Gulf Coast

Greenhouse Gases from a Growing Petrochemical Industry, 2016

Blowback from the Shale Boom, 2014

 

Note: This dataset is routinely updated and will continue to expand. Please contact us if you would like us to include a project in your community or if you would like to report an error.