Pa. Moves to Limit Air Emissions from Gas Industry
Washington PA Observer Reporter
1 February 2013
Pennsylvania’s natural gas compressor stations will have to meet
tighter air pollution standards under a mandate from the state
The Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday its
revised permit for compressor stations requires a 75- to
93-percent reduction in air emissions for the largest, most common
types of engines used to power the facilities, which pressurize
natural gas taken from the Marcellus Shale formation for movement
Environmental groups and some residents have expressed concern
over air quality as more compressor stations are permitted and
built. Residents who live downwind have complained of headaches,
breathing trouble or other health problems they blame on air
emissions from the compressors.
The new DEP permit imposes stricter limits on volatile organic
compounds, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides and carbon emissions. The
agency also announced it will accept public comment on a separate
plan to reduce wellhead emissions.
“The steps we are taking now mean far lower emissions at well
sites and more efficient compressor stations, resulting in cleaner
air as development, production and transmission take place,” DEP
Secretary Michael Krancer said in a statement. “DEP’s effective
and robust oversight will deliver on the promise of cleaner air
from the increased use of natural gas.”
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, said it
supported the new standards. The revised permit will “further
leverage technologies that continue to reduce our industry’s
footprint,” said coalition president Kathryn Klaber.
Pennsylvania has more than 400 compressor stations, including
older stations that handle natural gas produced from conventional
DEP has been criticized by environmental groups over rules that
govern when it treats compressor stations as individual, minor
sources of pollution and when it groups them together with related
natural gas facilities like wells and pipelines, for purposes of
aggregating their air emissions. Major sources of pollution are
subject to stricter controls.
State Rep. Jesse White, a Democrat from Washington County, said
Thursday’s announcement “totally ignores the real problem, which
is that DEP refuses to aggregate emissions results. So if there
are 10 compressors right next to one another, DEP monitors
emissions of each one separately, even though the combined
emissions of all 10 are coming in through your kitchen window.”
Krancer has called the aggregation rules a “practical,
common-sense and legally sound approach” used by many other oil-
and gas-producing states.
Click here for the PA-DEP Release which
includes a link to further details.