Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gov. Wolf Announces New Methane Regulations On Oil & Gas Industry

During a Facebook Town Hall meeting Tuesday, Gov. Wolf announced DEP would be developing new regulations to control methane emissions from the oil and gas development industry.
Wolf said the plan is designed to protect the environment and public health, reduce climate change, and help businesses reduce the waste of a valuable product by reducing methane leaks and emissions from natural gas well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations and along pipelines.
“Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the nation behind Texas,” said Gov. Wolf. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, creating new jobs, and protecting public health and our environment. These are commonsense steps that Pennsylvania can take to protect our air and reduce waste for industry. The best companies understand the business case for reducing methane leaks, as what doesn’t leak into the atmosphere can be used for energy production.”
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. It has more than 28 to 36 times more warming power than carbon dioxide, according to data from the federal government.
With federal estimates that the natural gas and oil industries account for a quarter of U.S. methane emissions, reducing methane leaks from the oil and gas sector is one of the essential steps needed for government to work with industry to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.
Industry reported more than 5 million mcf (thousand cubic feet) – almost 115,000 tons -- of methane emissions from unconventional wells and mid-stream operations in Pennsylvania in 2014. This is considered a low estimate, since fugitive emissions are difficult to quantify.
“As the basis for our methane strategy, we’ve identified measures that the best companies in the industry are already employing, or that are required by the Federal government, or other states. These measures will pay for themselves in recovering saleable product that is otherwise lost,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley.
Pennsylvania will reduce emissions during development and gas production, processing, and transmission by requiring leak detection and repair (LDAR) measures,  efficiency upgrades for equipment, improved processes, implementation of best practices, and more frequent use of leak-sensing technologies.
The four-point plan:
— To reduce leaks at new unconventional natural gas well pads, DEP will develop a new general permit for oil and gas exploration, development, and production facilities, requiring Best Available Technology (BAT) for equipment and processes, better record-keeping, and quarterly monitoring inspections.
— To reduce leaks at new compressor stations and processing facilities, DEP will revise its current general permit, updating best-available technology requirements and applying more stringent LDAR, other requirements to minimize leaks. A new condition will require the use of Tier 4 diesel engines that reduce emissions of particulate matter and nitrous oxide by about 90%.
— To reduce leaks at existing oil and natural gas facilities, DEP will develop a regulation for existing sources for consideration by the Environmental Quality Board.
— To reduce emissions along production, gathering, transmission and distribution lines, DEP will establish best management practices, including leak detection and repair programs.
Click Here to watch the announcement online.
DEP has prepared an explanatory white paper on the methane proposal. A PowerPoint presentation is also available.
Secretary Quigley said information on the new methane proposal will be shared at the February 11 DEP Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee meeting.  The meeting will be in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building, Harrisburg starting at 9:15.
For more information, visit DEP’s Framework for Methane Reductions From Oil and Gas Sector webpage.
Climate Plan
Secretary Quigley said the methane regulations are part of Pennsylvania’s effort to address climate change.
DEP will be developing an implementation plan to meet the EPA Clean Power Climate Plan rule which is due in September.
Secretary Quigley also said he expects to have a companion document to the Clean Power Plan available in the Spring he described as “should dos” for further reducing climate changing emissions.
For more information on climate change initiatives, visit DEP’s Climate Change and DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage.
Related Stories:
PEC, EDF: Pennsylvania Charts Path To Address Oil & Gas Methane Emissions
PennFuture, Other Groups Laud Wolf's Proposed Methane Reduction Rule
Associated Petroleum Industries-PA Reacts To Wolf's Methane Reduction Proposal
PEC: Pennsylvania Signals Strong Steps On Methane

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