Storage of Crude Oil

This page provides information about the potential requirements that may apply to oil storage activities. 

Potentially Applicable Regulations

Clean Air Act (CAA)

  • CAA General Duty Clause (GDC). CAA Section 112(r)(1). Requires owners and operators of stationary sources to identify hazards that may result from accidental releases, to design and maintain a safe facility, and to minimize the consequences of releases when they occur. The GDC applies to owners and operators of all stationary sources which produce, process, handle or store any “extremely hazardous substances.” There is no specific list of substances which subject a stationary source owner or operator to the GDC provisions. 
  • Chemical Accident Prevention (“Risk Management Plan/RMP”)CAA § 112(r)(7); 40 CFR Part 68. Requires owners or operators of stationary sources to develop a risk management program to prevent or minimize accidental releases of substances found at 40 C.F.R. § 68.130. This program may be used in conjunction with CERCLA and EPCRA. There is a specific list of chemicals and threshold levels that may subject sources to this RMP requirement. 
  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program. 40 CFR 98 Subpart W. Requires reporting of GHG data and other relevant information from large GHG emission sources, fuel and industrial gas suppliers, and CO2 injection sites in the United States. The GHGRP covers emissions from different aspects of the oil and gas industry through several of its subparts. Relevant subparts include Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems (Subpart W); Petroleum Refineries (Subpart Y), Petrochemical Production (Subpart X), Suppliers of Petroleum Products (Subpart MM), and Suppliers of Natural Gas and Natural Gas Liquids (Subpart NN).  Annual reports covering emissions from the prior calendar year are due by March 31 of each year.
  • Other Clean Air Act Requirements - The Clean Air Act (CAA) establishes a number of programs and requirements designed to regulate emissions of air pollutants, including over 180 hazardous air pollutants and several additional pollutants for which the EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and new source performance standards (NSPS). The following potentially are applicable to the storage of crude oil.  Given the many different potentially applicable CAA regulations, it would be best to contact the relevant permitting authority, including permitting in Indian Country, where applicable. The permitting authority is generally the best source of information about how oil storage tanks are regulated in their jurisdiction.  

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Clean Water Act (CWA) as amended by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA)

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) 

(Sections 302, 303, 311, and 312). EPCRA was created in 1986 to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. It also requires industry to report on the storage, use and releases of hazardous substances to federal, state, tribal and local governments.  Facility owners or operators considering either an increase in existing oil storage capacity and/or creation of new oil storage facilities may be subject to the EPCRA requirements. Hazardous chemicals, which includes crude oil and refined oil products typically are subject to EPCRA Sections 311 and 312. 

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 

  • RCRA Subtitle C authorizes the EPA to regulate hazardous waste. This includes all stages of the waste's life cycle: generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. It requires tracking of hazardous waste from generation to disposal, and permitting of hazardous waste management facilities.  Generally, RCRA Subtitle C (hazardous waste) doesn’t apply to bulk product storage (non-hazardous waste).  

  • RCRA Subtitle I - RCRA Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations at 40 CFR Part 280 apply if the petroleum or hazardous substance is being stored in UST systems as defined at 40 CFR § 280.12. Among other requirements, USTs are required to meet specific performance standards and have equipment for spill and overfill prevention, leak detection, and corrosion protection before storing any petroleum or hazardous substances. 40 CFR § 280 Subparts C and D. Owners and operators must obtain financial assurance. 40 CFR § 280 subpart H.  Owners and operators must ensure compliance with certain certification, testing, or inspection requirements for installation of new tanks. Owners/operators are exempt from SPCC Plan Requirements for completely buried storage tanks, as well as connected underground piping, underground ancillary equipment, and containment systems if they are fully subject to the technical requirements of 40 CFR part 280.  In addition, RCRA Subtitle I (underground storage tanks or USTs) generally doesn’t apply to above ground storage tanks.

Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA).

Under SDWA, EPA regulates the construction, operation, permitting, and closure of injection wells that place certain fluids underground through the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Oil and natural gas operators use injection wells for three primary purposes:

  • Disposal of fluids brought to the surface in connection with natural gas storage operations or oil and gas production activities (including produced water, hydraulic fracturing fluids, etc.)

  • Enhanced recovery of oil or natural gas, e.g. waterflood operations and hydraulic fracturing.

  • Injection of hydrocarbons for storage provided the hydrocarbons are liquid at standard temperature and pressure. The injection of natural gas for storage, if the gas is of pipeline quality, is exempt from regulation under the SDWA

Underground injection of fluid that contains diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing also falls under the purview of the SDWA.

The SDWA and federal UIC regulations establish protective requirements that allow for the safe injection of fluids underground. These requirements are outlined in the statute, 42 U.S.C. § 300f et seq., and 40 CFR Parts 144, 145, 146, 147 and 148. States may implement and enforce the UIC program as specified in 40 CFR Parts 145 and 147.The Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, is responsible for regulating the construction, operation, permitting, and closure of injection wells that place fluids underground for storage.  

Emergency Response Authorities

Available emergency response authorities EPA can use to address adverse impacts from oil or natural gas drilling, production and processing:

More Resources for Indian Country

Indian Country Resources – Additional resources for Indian Country. 

Indian Country Air Permitting in EPA's Regional Offices - Each of EPA's regional offices has a different tribal and permitting program.  Here you can find more information about which sources are covered under each general permit or permit by rule in your region.

Major Source NSR permits in Indian Country – “Major" sources of a regulated pollutant under the of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for which an area is in non-attainment status may require Non-Attainment NSR permits that cover the non-attainment pollutant.  (40 CFR 49.166-49.173)  Major sources in this context are generally sources emitting more than 100 tpy of any one regulated pollutant, but lower thresholds apply in some ozone and PM2.5 nonattainment areas. A source may require a permit under more than one NSR program, depending on its location and the amount and type of pollutants emitted.  

Minor Source NSR in Indian Country - Minor NSR permitting requirements may apply to the construction or modification of “non-major” sources in attainment, non-attainment, and unclassifiable areas.  The requirements for the Tribal Minor NSR program are located at (40 CFR 49.151-49.164). In addition, minor NSR requirements may apply to the modification of an existing major source that increases emissions by an amount less than the significance levels described above. Applicability levels for minor NSR may vary across states. In tribal areas, applicability of minor NSR permitting is determined on the basis of the Minor NSR thresholds for various pollutants reflected in CFR 49.153, Table 1.   

PSD Permitting in Indian Country - “Major” sources that construct in an area which is in attainment status for any pollutant must meet  the “Prevention of Significant Deterioration” (PSD) requirements covering all regulated pollutants except those for which an area is designated non-attainment (CAA § 165(a); 40 CFR 52.21) – Generally, a major source for PSD purposes is one that emits 250 tons/year (tpy) of any one regulated pollutant, but there are 28 source categories for which the “major” threshold is 100 tpy. Existing major sources must obtain a PSD permit before engaging in a modification that is projected to increase emissions by more than the significance levels specified in regulations.  

Federal Implementation Plans - Some sources may be required to comply with one of the following two relevant Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs):

Operating Permits (CAA Title V) -   A source in Indian Country must submit an application for a Title V operating permit, within one year after the source becomes subject to the permitting program, or on or before an earlier date established by the permitting authority.  Currently, only one tribe has an EPA-approved operating permit program under 40 CFR Part 70 (Southern Ute Indian Tribe) –, and one tribe has been delegated authority to issue federal Title V permits under 40 CFR Part 71 (Navajo Nation).

More Resources for All Sources

Fact Sheet for the Final Rule: Amendments to the Storm Water Regulations for Discharges Associated with Oil and Gas Construction Activities  

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - Individual NPDES permits from EPA might also require NEPA analysis. Issuance of an NPDES permit to a “new source” as defined in CWA § 306 requires NEPA compliance by EPA CWA §511(c)(1); 40 C.F.R. §122.29(c)(1)(i).

EPA’s EPCRA, RMP & Oil Information Center (also referred to as “the Call Center”) - a publicly accessible service that provides information on the regulatory requirements for the following EPA programs: Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule; and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule and Facility Response Plan (FRP) Rule.

Brochure on EPCRA Reporting Requirements for oil and gas drilling and production facilities.  

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Technical Compendium about the 2015 UST Regulation - This compendium contains EPA’s interpretations and guidance about the 2015 underground storage tank (UST) regulation.  

Nationwide Permits Chronology and Related Materials under CWA Section 404 - Chronology of the reissuance of Section 404 nationwide permits.

Basics of SPCC Brief Guide for Facilities - A brief guide on Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule requirements for facility owners and operators.

The National Response Center (NRC)  - Anyone witnessing an oil spill, chemical release or maritime security incident should call the NRC hotline at 1-800-424-8802.

Oil Reporting Fact Sheet - If a facility or vessel discharges oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines, the owner/operator is required to follow certain federal reporting requirements. This fact sheet outlines those reporting requirements.

USEPA National Response System - Response planning and coordination is accomplished at the federal level through the U.S. National Response Team (NRT), an interagency group co-chaired by the EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard. Although the NRT does not respond directly to incidents, it is responsible for distributing Information and planning and training for emergencies.

EPA Compliance Advisory on “Compliance Concerns Associated with Increasing Oil Storage.” This 3-page advisory is written to help facilities that may be increasing existing oil storage capacity or creating new oil storage capacity, and explains the Clean Water Act requirements that apply, such as Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) requirements. Find the Compliance Advisory at



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