Should PA Compressor Plants Miles Away be Considered “Adjacent”?

A few weeks ago at the Shale Insight 2013 event in Philadelphia, MDN heard a panel discussion that tackled a thorny, and on-going, issue in Pennsylvania. The issue is complex, but if we can condense it to a brief statement, it would be this: Should processing and compressor plants that are connected by pipelines but not directly next to each other be considered a “single source” when it comes to the pollution they emit? The argument comes down to the concept of adjacency–what does the word “adjacent” mean in the federal Clean Air Act? Does it mean “directly next to each other,” or “in the same general vicinity” (up to X miles away)?

If the plants scattered in a general area–say 20-30 miles around–are considered a single source or “adjacent”, it means collectively they would be considered a “major source” of pollution and therefore subject to very strict federal guidelines under the Clean Air Act. If they are not adjacent and not a single source, they are regulated by the state and the state has less onerous rules when it comes to air pollution emissions. It may sound like a small difference, but being regulated by the EPA or the state of Pennsylvania is a huge (and expensive) difference. The real question is, are residents who live in areas with an abundance of compressor stations and processing plants being exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution?…

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