Regulating Air Emissions from Wellhead Operations: Good Public Policy or an Existential Threat to Operations?
John P. Martin¹ and Nicholas Czarnecki²
¹University at Buffalo, Amherst, NY and JP Martin Energy Strategy LLC, Saratoga Springs, NY, [email protected]
²Nick Czarnecki, Lowham Walsh LLC, Lander WY, [email protected]
Of all the regulatory compliance issues affecting upstream operations, air emissions may pose the greatest challenge for operators. The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the primary policy tool to regulate the emissions of criteria pollutants, particulate matter (PM), hazardous air pollutants and air toxics, volatile organic compounds, and greenhouse gases. The Environmental Protection Agency is authorized by the CAA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Due to the complementary federal/state regulatory relationship, consideration must be given to both EPA policy and rulemaking and the authority of the states to apply their own unique regulations. State regulators are responsible for any oil and gas operation in their jurisdiction and are required to develop a regulatory program that is consistent with the various conditions imposed by the EPA.
Geologic complexity and variability of natural gas reservoirs must also be taken into account in the development of consistent state regulatory programs. Though the states have taken different approaches to air regulation based on their own unique conditions, there are a few programs which offer good models for all to follow. Wyoming’s progressive air program can be viewed as a good example on how to balance the need for air emissions control without stifling development. The recent EPA rulemaking relied on Wyoming process as a model. New York State’s proposed air emissions regulations may have a different effect. More so than any other requirement, the air emissions regulations, like those outlined in the New York State’s Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, could potentially stifle development for years if technology is not able to keep pace with the formidable air emission regulatory requirements that have been proposed by New York State
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90154©2012 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, 22-26 September 2012