AEDNews - Construction Equipment Industry News|
EPA Issues Updated Air Pollution Standards for Oil and Natural Gas
In response to a court deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized standards to reduce harmful air pollution associated with oil and natural gas production. The updated standards, required by the Clean Air Act, took into account feedback from a range of stakeholders including the public, public health groups, states and industry. According to an EPA press release, the final standards reduce implementation costs while also ensuring they are achievable and can be met by relying on proven, cost-effective technologies as well as processes already in use at approximately half of the fractured natural gas wells in the United States.
These technologies will not only reduce 95 percent of the harmful emissions from these wells that contribute to smog and lead to health impacts, they will also enable companies to collect additional natural gas that can be sold. Natural gas is a key component of the nation’s clean energy future and the standards released today make sure that we can continue to expand production of this important domestic resource while reducing impacts to public health, and most importantly builds on steps already being taken by industry leaders.
When natural gas is produced, some of the gas escapes the well and may not be captured by the producing company. These gases, according to EPA, can pollute the air and as a result threaten public health. Consistent with states that have already put in place similar requirements, the updated EPA standards include the first federal air rules for natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured, specifically requiring operators of new fractured natural gas wells to use cost-effective technologies and practices to capture natural gas that might otherwise escape the well, which can subsequently be sold. EPA’s analysis of the final rules shows that they are highly cost-effective, relying on widely available technologies and practices already deployed at approximately half of all fractured wells, and consistent with steps industry is already taking in many cases to capture additional natural gas for sale, offsetting the cost of compliance. Together these rules will result in $11 to $19 million in savings for industry each year. In addition to cutting pollution at the wellhead, EPA’s final standards also address emissions from storage tanks and other equipment.
Based on new data provided during the public comment period, the final rule establishes a phase-in period that will ensure emissions reduction technology is broadly available. During the first phase, until January 2015, owners and operators must either flare their emissions or use emissions reduction technology called “green completions,” technologies that are already widely deployed at wells. In 2015, all new fractured wells will be required to use green completions. The final rule does not require new federal permits. Instead, it sets clear standards and uses enhanced reporting to strengthen transparency and accountability, and ensure compliance, while establishing a consistent set of national standards to safeguard public health and the environment.
Upon initial review, American Petroleum Institute (API) Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman recognized improvements in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final air rules for oil and natural gas production, including hydraulic fracturing operations, that allow for emission reductions while still allowing for production of oil and natural gas:
“The industry has led efforts to reduce emissions by developing new technologies that were adopted in the rule. EPA has made some improvements in the rules that allow our companies to continue reducing emissions while producing the oil and natural gas our country needs. This is a large and complicated rulemaking for an industry so critical to the economy, and we need to thoroughly review the final rule to fully understand its impacts.”
API represents more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers more than $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested more than $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.
During the nearly 100-day public comment period, the agency received more than 150,000 comments on the proposed rules from the public, industry, environmental groups and states. The agency also held three public hearings. The updated standards were informed by the important feedback received through the public comment period, reducing implementation cost and ensuring the achievable standard can be met by relying on proven, cost-effective technologies and processes already in use.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas
Article Date: 2012-04-23
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; American Petroleum Institute
Copyright(C) 2012 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.