Monday, August 12, 2013

Unconventional gas wells no longer unconditionally exempt from DEP air quality oversight

On August 8, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that operators of unconventional gas wells will no longer be “unconditionally exempt” from seeking air quality plan approval for well sites. Additionally, the DEP provided updated technical guidance, in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, for operators now required to submit air quality plans. Included in the guidance, are leak detection and repair programs that apply to the entire well site. Federal standards only require leak plans to apply to storage tanks. Further, the technical guidance limits the emissions of nitrogen oxides (unaddressed by federal standards) and requires any flaring used as emission control on storage vessels to be enclosed. According to a DEP news release, the DEP may still issue an operator a “permitting exemption” should they implement controls and practices that surpass federal EPA standards.

Written by: Garrett Lent, Research Assistant
Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
August 2013

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