PA Court Rules Compressor, Gas Well Not “Single” Emission Source

A somewhat obscure court case in Pennsylvania has potentially big implications for drillers who also own pipeline subsidiaries. In Lycoming County, PA, Seneca Resources (subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company) drilled a series of wells on a pad called Well Pad E. Another NFG subsidiary, NFG Midstream, connected gathering lines to Well Pad E. NFG Midstream operates a compressor station to push the gas through the pipeline system. Both the well pad and the pipeline/compressor station are subject to air emissions regulations by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Each subsidiary on its own–the well pad, and the compressor station–don’t produce enough emissions to trip a costly upgrade in technology. However, if you combine both together into a single “source,” the two together do cross the threshold and would cost NFG big bucks in emissions technology to comply. The DEP lumped both together and told NFG to upgrade their emissions technology. Thing is, if another company owned the pipeline system, say Williams, the DEP would not have tried combining the two into a single source. So NGF appealed the DEP decision to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), a quasi-court set up to hear appeals of DEP decisions. The EHB found in favor of the DEP, so NFG appealed it again, this time to PA Commonwealth Court. Last week the court overturned the DEP decision and said just because two subsidiaries have the same parent, you can’t just lump them together as a single source for air emissions regulations…

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