The US Environmental Protection Agency issued final revised new source performance standards (NSPS) to control volatile organic compounds (VOC) and sulfur dioxide emissions from onshore natural gas processing plants. The NSPS rule also expands existing standards to cover VOC released from gas wells, centrifugal compressors, centrifugal compressors, reciprocating processors, pneumatic controllers, and storage vessels, EPA said in a Federal Register notice.
It said the final rule also made final residual risk and technology reviews for oil and gas producers and gas pipelines and storage facilities; revised existing leak detection and repair requirements; and established emission limits reflecting the maximum achievable control technology for some currently uncontrolled emission sources. The new requirements become effective on Oct. 15, according to the Aug. 16 notice.
Two oil and gas industry groups were critical.
“While the final rule is an improvement from the proposal, it still has critical issues that will warrant immediate action from EPA,” said Matt Todd, a senior policy advisor at the American Petroleum Institute. “Specifically, we believe that EPA has inadvertently written some of the requirements in a manner that will cause widespread noncompliance with the rules. Additionally, because EPA has significantly underestimated the number of tanks affected by this rule, there will be a significant impact on our ability continue operations unless the agency modifies the rule language.”
API has requested technical clarifications to the rule and immediately filed a petition for reconsideration and stay request, he indicated. “We hope that EPA will react positively and expeditiously to address these issues,” Todd said.
Matthew Kellogg, government relations manager at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the NSPS rule has fundamental problems. “It has a faulty foundation and a potentially negative effect on smaller producers,” he said. “IPAA believes EPA’s baseline emissions estimates, which form the backbone of the rule, are significantly overstated—even by as much as 1,400% in some cases.”
He said due to the sweeping definition (any gas well completion that uses hydraulic fracturing), IPAA fears smaller, vertical, operations will be subject to the rule. “Applying these burdens to smaller producers, who have a much smaller emissions profile, would be a blow as they are small businesses with limited resources operating in a struggling economy,” Kellogg said.
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