[PA] Marcellus Shale Drillers Face New Rules on Pollution
Shale gas firms say Pa. measures will help air quality
9 August 2013
By Don Hopey
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/environment/marcellus-shale-drillers-face-new-rules-on-pollution-698694/#ixzz2bUIkEvfF
Shale gas drillers in Pennsylvania are facing new rules that will,
for the first time, limit noxious emissions, including nitrogen
oxides, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.
The new state rules will be published Saturday in the Pennsylvania
Bulletin and take effect immediately. According to the rules,
shale gas drillers will be required to either get an air quality
plan approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection
before drilling a well, or implement practices and emission
controls more stringent than federal requirements that took effect
in April 2012.
The new rules end the 1996 blanket exemption granted
unconventional shale gas wells from pollution control
Chris Abruzzo, acting DEP secretary, said Thursday that the new
emission rules build on "existing federal requirements by
continuing to set the high, but fair, bar we have come to expect."
The rules require well operators to do leak detection and make
timely repairs for the entire well pad and facility, including
condensate tanks containing so-called "wet gases" such asethane,
propane and butane. Emissions of nitrogen oxides must be reduced
to less than 100 pounds per hour, half a ton per day and 6.6 tons
per year. Federal rules do not limit those emissions.
According to Kevin Sunday, a DEP spokesman, the state's rules will
also require that all flaring done for emissions control on gas
storage tanks be enclosed.
According to the DEP, enclosing flares reduces emissions of
volatile organic compounds and hazardous gases by up to 99.9
Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition,
said the new rules will result in improved air quality in the
He said the coalition hasn't determined how much those
requirements will cost the industry or which option -- getting
state approval of an air quality plan or implementation of
controls more stringent than federal rules -- most well drilling
companies will choose to follow.
"Operators can either meet the tougher than federal conditions or
go through the state plan approval process, which can take a long
time," Mr. Creighton said. "Operators may be incentivized to meet
the tougher standards."
According to Clean Air Council attorney David Presley, the council
also commented on the proposed rules but hasn't had a chance to
review the final language.
"If the wells are no longer exempt from getting a plan approval,
that's something we asked for," Mr. Presley said.
Don Hopey: email@example.com or 412-263-1983.