Thursday, June 27, 2013

W.Va. DEP Formally Adopting New EPA Air Regulations

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled public hearings for its 2014 proposed legislative rules. The state’s natural gas industry should take note of two of the proposed air rules – 45 CSR 16 and 45 CSR 34 – both of which adopt amendments to EPA regulations that became effective October 15, 2012.  Provided are overviews of these rules that have been prepared by Joe Jenkins, an associate at LGCR and a former Senior Counsel at the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection:

• 45 CSR 16 adopts by reference EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) (mainly Subpart OOOO to 40 CFR Part 60) for the listed oil and natural gas source category to regulate volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions from gas wells, centrifugal compressors, reciprocating compressors, pneumatic controllers and storage vessels (note that EPA is in the process of reconsidering the NSPS for storage vessels after receiving several petitions for reconsideration) and VOC and sulfur dioxide emissions from natural gas processing plants.  WVDEP adopts new EPA standards each year to maintain consistency with current federal regulations and to fulfill the State’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act in order to continue as the primary enforcement authority for NSPS.  In addition to the standards noted above, this rule adopts other NSPS potentially of interest to those in the oil and gas industry including petroleum refineries and stationary internal combustion engines, as well as NSPS for other industries: Portland cement plants, utility steam generating units and nitric acid plants. 

Many of the NSPS for activities conducted at the natural gas well pads are anticipated to be regulated through a new general permit (G70-A) that is currently in draft form (public comment closed in May but the draft permit is available here on WVDEP’s website).  Although WVDEP is now going through the process of formally adopting EPA’s regulations promulgated last year, WVDEP has already started implementing the standards.  For example, as of October 15, 2012 operators are required to submit notice no later than two days before commencing the well completion operations for the fracturing or refracturing of wells drilled after August 23, 2011 and WVDEP has begun to issue individual permits for well pad sites that incorporate the new NSPS.

• 45 CSR 34 is similar to 45 CSR 16 in that WVDEP also is formally adopting EPA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“NESHAP”) for the oil and natural gas production source category and natural gas transmission and storage source category to regulate glycol dehydrators and equipment leaks.  The proposed general permit does not address these sources as they are not typically located at the well pad.

Information about these rules -- and other proposed rules -- is available at this WVDEP webpage: http://www.dep.wv.gov/pio/Pages/Rules.aspx.

The public hearing for the rules noted above will begin at 6 p.m., Monday, July 8 in the Dolly Sods Conference Room in WVDEP's Charleston headquarters, located at 601 57th St., S.E., Charleston, WV, 25304.  The comment period will end at the conclusion of the hearing. Oral and written comments will be limited to the proposed revisions and will be made part of the rulemaking record. Written comments may be submitted to the Public Information Office at the above address. Comments may also be emailed to DEP.Comments@wv.gov.

Questions about these rules should be sent to Joe Jenkins at jjenkins@lgcr.com or by calling him at (304) 345-2000.