In 1989 the Dutch Government published the National Environmental Policy Plan (NEPP). In this plan it was stated that, by the year 2000, certain maximum allowable risk levels for waste streams to the environment should not be exceeded and that by 2010 those risk levels should be negligible.
The NEPP requires reductions in the national emissions and discharges of 50–70 % by 2000 and 89–90 % by 2010 compared to the emission/discharge levels in 1985. It was realised that these targets could not be met by solely issuing new legislation, as this is often a lengthy process which does not normally lead to cost effective solutions. It was therefore proposed that legislation be supplemented by voluntary agreements, (Environmental Covenants), between government and industry sectors on how to achieve these reductions.
In August 1992, the Dutch E&P industry started discussions with the government about an Environmental Covenant. It is expected that a Covenant will be finalised early 1994.
To support the Covenant discussions profiles of the different emissions to water, air and soil have been calculated up to 2010 and a methodology has been developed to help identify how the E&P industry should allocate the finite resources available to enable it to make the largest contribution to the achievement of the NEPP goals.
The methodology combines the available scientific data, current emission levels, and societal preferences to estimate overall preference factors for unit reductions in the various E&P industry emissions and discharges.
These factors are used with conventional evaluation methods to establish the relative environmental cost effectiveness of a portfolio of possible environmental improvement projects. After ranking on the basis of cost-effectiveness, marginal and cumulative cost-benefit curves and tables are produced which can be used for project selection.
In 1989 the Dutch Government published the National Environmental Policy Plan (NEPP). This plan contains the Environmental Strategy for the 1990–1994 period and Reduction Targets for all relevant emissions and discharges for the years 2000 and 2010. Strategy and reduction targets were based on the findings of the UN Brundtland report "Our Common Future" and studies by the National Institute for Health and Environment (RIVM) laid down in the report "Concern for Tomorrow".
As this is a paper about environmental aspects of the Dutch E&P industry, it is not worthwhile to go into details about the full content of the NEPP, suffice it to say that the ultimate aim of the strategy and the long term reduction targets are to achieve "sustainable development" in the Netherlands. The reduction targets are based on the principles that in the year 2000, certain maximum allowable risk levels for the environment and human beings should not be exceeded and that in 2010 those risk levels should be negligible.
These NEPP reduction targets for the industry in general are shown for relevant compounds in table 1.