Friday, July 29, 2011

Proposed Air Emission Rules For Oil And Gas Drilling Operations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed standards to reduce regulated air emissions from oil and gas drilling operations. These proposed updated standards, issued in response to a court order, would rely on existing technologies to reduce emissions. The proposal would cut volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from several types of processes and equipment used in the oil and gas industry, including a 95% reduction in VOCs emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells.

EPA’s analysis of the proposed changes, which also include requirements for storage tanks and other equipment, estimates a net savings to the industry of $10s of millions annually from the value of natural gas that would no longer escape to the air. The proposal includes reviews of four air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry as required by the Clean Air Act: a new source performance standard for VOCs from equipment leaks at gas processing plants; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide emissions from gas processing plants; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.

EPA is under a consent decree requiring the agency to sign a proposal by July 28, 2011 and take final action by Feb. 28, 2012. As part of the public comment period, EPA will hold three public hearings, in the Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh areas.

Caltha LLP provides specialized expertise to clients nationwide in the evaluation environmental rules, developing EH&S compliance procedures, and preparing cost-effective EH&S management programs.

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