EPA guidelines aim to help curb oil, gas VOC releases in US Northeast

The US Environmental Protection Agency issued final control techniques guidelines (CTGs) for reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from existing oil and gas operations in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic US states on Oct. 20. The CTGs are not regulations, but recommendations to state and local air agencies as they determine what limits apply to covered sources in their jurisdictions, the federal environmental regulator emphasized.

The CTGs apply to oil and gas ground-level VOC emissions sources within the Clean Air Act’s Ozone Transport Region comprised of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) that includes the District of Columbia, EPA said.

It said that the recommendations are designed to help state, local, and Indian tribal agencies determine what constitutes reasonably available control technologies (RACTs) to limit VOC emissions from storage vessels, compressors, pneumatic controllers, pneumatic pumps, natural gas processing plants, well sites, and gathering and boosting stations.

“The information contained in this document is provided only as guidance. This guidance does not change, or substitute for, requirements specified in applicable sections of the CAA or EPA’s regulations; nor is it a regulation itself,” EPA said. “This document does not impose any requirements on facilities in the oil and gas industry. It provides only recommendations for air agencies to consider in determining RACTs.”

US House Science, Space & Technology Committee Chairman LaMar Smith (R-Tex.) called EPA’s regulatory actions on methane emissions premature, unnecessary, and a cause for concern when he learned of the agency’s move.

“EPA has continuously tried to eliminate a specific sector of our economy to appease environmental alarmists,” he declared on Oct. 20. “Recent studies by [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] have concluded that the rise in methane emissions is not from the oil and gas sector, but from other sources. Furthermore, voluntary emissions reductions are working and drastically reducing methane emissions, without the need for additional regulations and guidelines.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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