EPA proposes updates to air regulations for oil and natural gas industry
Posted September 9, 2019
On August 28, EPA signed proposed amendments to the 2012 and 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas industry. The Agency co-proposed two actions, both of which it says would remove unnecessary regulatory duplication in the 2016 rule.
In its primary proposal, EPA would remove sources in the transmission and storage segment of the oil and gas industry from regulation. These sources include transmission compressor stations, pneumatic controllers, and underground storage vessels. The Agency is proposing that the addition of these sources to the 2016 rule was not appropriate, noting that EPA did not make a separate finding to determine that the emissions from the transmission and storage segment of the industry causes or significantly contributes to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.
The primary proposal also would rescind emissions limits for methane, from the production and processing segments of the industry but would keep emissions limits for ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These sources include well completions, pneumatic pumps, pneumatic controllers, gathering and boosting compressors, natural gas processing plants, and storage tanks. The controls to reduce VOCs emissions also reduce methane at the same time, so separate methane limitations for that segment of the industry are redundant.
In an alternative proposal, EPA would rescind the methane emissions limitations without removing from regulation any sources from the transmission and storage segment of the industry.
The Agency also is seeking comment on alternative interpretations of EPA’s legal authority to regulate pollutants under section 111(b)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act.
This proposal is in addition to a September 2018 technical action that proposed targeted improvements to help streamline implementation, reduce duplication of EPA and state requirements, and significantly decrease unnecessary burdens on domestic energy producers. EPA is currently reviewing comments received on that technical package and expects to issue a final rule in the upcoming months.
EPA will take comments on the proposal for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register and will hold a public hearing.