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 280 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 245 projects that have been issued final major Clean Air Act construction permits since 2012 that authorize almost 232 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. EIP is also tracking 52 additional projects that have requested authorization to emit over 77 million tons of greenhouse gases on an annual basis. Combined, these 297 projects have the potential to emit over 309 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. That’s equivalent to the carbon output from 68 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:
|Final Approvals Issued||245||231,877,272||46,202||6,862||34,089||86,574||9,693|
|Draft and Pending Applications||52||77,653,506||29,375||5,976||79,687||62,815||6,327|
Mapping the Oil and Gas Infrastructure Buildout
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 legends and turn on demographic and political boundary layers by clicking on the legend icon (>>) in the top left corner. The larger the circle, 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 liquefied natural gas export facilities; and the green are nitrogen fertilizer and explosives plants.
Map of Oil, Gas, and Chemical Projects That Have Been Issued Final Clean Air Act Construction Permits
Map of Oil, Gas, and Chemical Projects That Have Been Issued Draft Permits or Have Applications Pending
Applications Received by State Agencies Within the Past Six Months
- Applications for three projects at adjacent chemical and plastics manufacturing plants have been submitted to the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. If authorized, these expansion projects could emit 863,204 tons of greenhouse gases per year. (Although these three facilities have been issued and operate under individual Title V permits, the plants are considered a single stationary source for the purposes of major new source review and Title V permit procedure.)
- Westlake Vinyls, Inc. submitted an application on August 29, 2019 for projects that could increase annual vinyl chloride monomer production by 40% at the Vinyls Plant in Marshall County.
- Westlake Vinyls, Inc. – PVC Plant submitted an application on August 16, 2019 for projects that could increase annual PVC production by 50% at the PVC Plant in Marshall County.
- Westlake Chemical OpCo LP submitted an application on September 1, 2019 for projects that could increase annual ethylene production by 24% at the Ethylene Plant in Marshall County.
- The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality received a permit application from Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. – St. Gabriel on December 3, 2019 to construct a new hydrogen plant in Ascension Parish. This project will provide feed gas to a newly constructed Ammonia Synloop Facility and, if authorized, could have the potential to emit almost 1.5 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
- South Louisiana Methanol, LP submitted an application to construct a new Methanol Storage and Distribution Terminal and increase methanol production capacity at the St. James Methanol Plant. The application was deemed complete on November 18, 2019. If approved, this project has the potential to emit over 2 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
- Marathon Petroleum, LLC submitted an application on October 31, 2019 to modify the Garyville Refinery in St. John the Baptist Parish. This significant permit amendment could authorize four concurrent projects that have the potential to emit 701,382 tons of greenhouse gases on an annual basis.
- Venture Global Delta LNG, LLC submitted an application on November 26, 2019 to construct a new LNG facility in Plaquemines Parish with a nameplate capacity of 20 million tonnes per annum. If authorized, Delta LNG will have the potential to emit almost 8 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. That’s almost the same carbon output as two coal-fired power plants running around the clock for one year.
- Port Arthur LNG submitted an application for the issuance of construction permit no. 158420, Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit no. PSDTX1572, and Greenhouse Gas Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit no. GHGPSDTX198 on September 12, 2019. The Port Arthur LNG project in Jefferson County will consist of four liquefaction trains, each capable of producing 6.73 million metric tonnes of LNG per year, and will have the potential to emit almost 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.
- Sinclair Casper Refining Company applied on September 9, 2019 for a permit to authorize the Crude Rate Expansion Project at the Casper Refinery in Natrona County. If permitted, this project could emit an additional 91,435 tons of greenhouse gases per year.
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 02/03/2020
Suggested citation: “Environmental Integrity Project. (2020, February 3). Emission Increase Database. Retrieved from https://environmentalintegrity.org/oil-gas-infrastructure-emissions.”
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.
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Related EIP Reports and Press Releases:
Greenhouse Gases from Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Production (01/2020)
– For a database listing all of the projects by state and their emissions, click here.