Hazardous Substances and Waste
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended, referred to as “CERCLA” or the “Superfund” law, and comparable state laws, impose liability without regard to fault or the legality of the original conduct of certain defined persons, including current and prior owners or operators of a site where a release of hazardous substances occurred and entities that disposed or arranged for the disposal of the hazardous substances found at the site. Under CERCLA, these “responsible persons” may be jointly and severally liable for the costs of cleaning up the hazardous substances, for damages to natural resources and for the costs of certain health studies.
In the course of our operations, we occasionally generate materials that are considered “hazardous substances” and, as a result, may incur CERCLA liability for cleanup costs. Also, claims may be filed for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by the release of hazardous substances or other pollutants. We also generate solid wastes that are subject to the requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as amended, or “RCRA,” and comparable state statutes.
Although we use operating and disposal practices that are standard in the industry, hydrocarbons or other wastes may have been released at properties owned or leased by us now or in the past, or at other locations where these hydrocarbons and wastes were taken for treatment or disposal. Under CERCLA, RCRA and analogous state laws, we could be required to clean up contaminated property (including contaminated groundwater), or to perform remedial activities to prevent future contamination.
The Clean Air Act, as amended, or “CAA,” and similar state laws and regulations restrict the emission of air pollutants and also impose various monitoring and reporting requirements. These laws and regulations may require us to obtain approvals or permits for construction, modification or operation of certain projects or facilities and may require use of emission controls.
Global Warming and Climate Change
Some scientific studies suggest that emissions of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) may contribute to warming of Earth’s atmosphere. While we do not believe our operations raise climate change issues different from those generally raised by commercial use of fossil fuels, legislation or regulatory programs that restrict greenhouse gas emissions in areas where we conduct business could increase our costs in order to comply with any new laws.
We operate facilities that are subject to requirements of the Clean Water Act, as amended, or “CWA,” and analogous state laws that impose restrictions and controls on the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters. Spill prevention, control and counter-measure requirements under the CWA require implementation of measures to help prevent the contamination of navigable waters in the event of a hydrocarbon spill. Other requirements for the prevention of spills are established under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, as amended, or “OPA,” which applies to owners and operators of vessels, including barges, offshore platforms and certain onshore facilities. Under OPA, regulated parties are strictly and jointly and severally liable for oil spills and must establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to cover liabilities related to an oil spill for which such parties could be statutorily responsible.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
We are subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, as amended, or “OSHA,” and comparable state laws that regulate the protection of employee health and safety. OSHA’s hazard communication standard requires that information about hazardous materials used or produced in our operations be maintained and provided to employees and state and local government authorities.
Saltwater Disposal Wells
We operate SWD wells that are subject to the CWA, Safe Drinking Water Act, and state and local laws and regulations, including those established by the Underground Injection Control Program of the Environmental Protection Agency, or “EPA,” which establishes the minimum program requirements. Most of our SWD wells are located in Texas. We also operate SWD wells in Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. Regulations in these states require us to obtain an Underground Injection Control permit to operate each of our SWD wells. The applicable regulatory agency may suspend or modify one or more of our permits if our well operations are likely to result in pollution of freshwater, substantial violation of permit conditions or applicable rules, or if the well leaks into the environment.