June 13, 2017
USEPA Reconsiders Provisions in Oil & Natural Gas Sector NSPS
POSTED BYKen Kirk, P.G.
On April 18, 2017, Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the US EPA, responded to several petitions submitted by the American Petroleum Institute, Texas Oil and Gas Association, Independent Associations and GPA Midstream Association dated August 2, 2016 requesting reconsideration of provisions in USEPA’s Oil and Natural Gas Sector NSPS: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed and Modified Sources, 81 FR 35824 (June 3, 2016) Final Rule. These petitions also included a request to stay the June 3, 2017 compliance date for 90-days while EPA reviews public comments.
In his response, Pruitt stated “the petitions have raised at least one objection to the fugitive emissions monitoring requirements included in the Final Rule (§60.5397a and associated provisions) that arose after the comment period or was impracticable to raise during the comment period and that is of central relevance to the rule”. Specific areas to be reconsidered by EPA include 1) provisions for requesting and receiving an alternative means of emissions limitations, and 2) inclusion of low production wells in the rules. Administrator Pruitt stated that EPA “will provide an opportunity for notice and comment on the issues raised in the petitions” . . . . as well as any other matter, it believes will benefit from additional comment and will “issue a 90-day stay of the compliance date for the fugitive emissions monitoring requirements”.
The Final Rule, also known as the “Methane Rule”, amends the 2012 NSPS by providing “standards for GHG emissions (in the form of methane emission limitations) and standards for VOC emissions. The NSPS includes both VOC and GHG emission standards for certain new, modified, and reconstructed equipment, processes, and activities across the oil and natural gas source category. These emission sources include the following:
- Sources that are unregulated under the current NSPS . . . (hydraulically fractured oil well completions, pneumatic pumps, and fugitive emissions from well sites and compressor stations);
- Sources that are currently regulated . . . for VOC, but not for GHGs (hydraulically fractured gas well completions and equipment leaks at natural gas processing plants);
- Certain equipment that is used across the source category for which the current NSPS . . . regulates emissions of VOC from only a subset (pneumatic controllers, centrifugal compressors, and reciprocating compressors), with the exception of compressors located at well sites.”