PA DEP to Push Onerous New Air Regs at Upcoming Meeting

In December, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a draft of onerous new regulations that focus on reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and so-called fugitive methane (see Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs). The new regs will force drillers and pipeline companies to spend big bucks to produce a teeny tiny improvement in emissions. The DEP is back, once again pushing its bad plan.
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Acid Rain Emissions from Power Plants Flat Thru 2050 Thx to Shale

Yesterday MDN brought you the story of a so-called acid rain permit issued to Pennsylvania’s largest natural gas-fired electric generating plant (see PA DEP to Issue “Acid Rain Permit” to Scranton Gas-Fired Power Plant). We outlined in that article the teeny tiny amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2), the stuff that causes acid rain, that gas-fired plants emit compared to coal and oil-fired plants.
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Va. State Agency Approves Atlantic Coast Pipe Compressor Stn

Artists rendering of ACP Buckingham County compress station (click for larger version)

Finally a little good news for Dominion Energy’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline project: The Virginia State Air Quality Board voted yesterday 4-0 to approve a compressor station for the pipeline in Buckingham County.
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PA DEP’s New Air Regs Would Exempt 80% of Conventional Wells

Last week MDN told you about onerous new regulations being proposed by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to cut down on supposed methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions coming from *existing* oil and gas wells and pipelines (see Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs). In our initial reporting on the proposed new regulations, one bit of information escaped our attention: Most of PA’s conventional wells (80% or more) will be exempted from these new rules. And PA’s conventional wells reportedly account for more than 50% of supposed methane emissions. There are approximately 80,000 active conventional oil and gas wells in PA, and about 10,600 active shale gas wells in PA.
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Pa. DEP Jumps the Gun with Proposed New Emissions Regs

We told you that yesterday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) was meeting to unveil proposed new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from existing well pads and pipelines (see Proposed New O&G Emissions Regs Will Disadvantage PA Drillers). They met and released a draft of onerous new regulations that focus more on reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions than they do fugitive methane–but the result is still the same: Force drillers and pipeline companies to spend bazillions of dollars to produce a teeny tiny improvement in emissions. The Marcellus Shale Coalition said, “Rather than creating more regulatory uncertainty [with these new regs at this time], it would be prudent for DEP to delay any regulatory proposals until federal rules are finalized,” pointing out the fact that federal rules are not yet finalized. In other words, Wolf’s DEP is jumping the gun.
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PA DEP Releasing Expensive New O&G Emissions Reg

The liberal PA Gov. Tom Wolf administration continues to tinker with (i.e. destroy) the Marcellus miracle in the Keystone State. In August the Wolf Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally, after years of work, implemented onerous new regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from *new* drilling and pipelines (see PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules). Don’t worry, *existing* well pads and pipelines are now in Wolf’s crosshairs. On a different but parallel track, the DEP has, for some time, considered requiring new regulations to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions at oil and gas sites (see PA DEP Considers Rule Reducing/Eliminating VOC Emissions for O&G). The DEP has just released a draft of those regs, and will hold a meeting to discuss the new proposed regulation on Dec. 13.
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Small but Determined Group Wants to Block Ohio Cracker Plant

Last week the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held an information session (to give out info) along with a public hearing (to accept comments) on the draft air pollution permit for PTT Global Chemical’s proposed ethane cracker plant complex in Belmont County, OH (see Ohio EPA to Hold Air Permit Hearing for PTT Cracker Nov. 27). Some 100 or so people turned up for the hearing, according to media accounts. Perhaps 35 people spoke during the public comment period. There were both supporters and detractors. We suppose we knew there were folks opposed to the project, but this is really the first time we’ve read about an organized effort to stop the project. That effort comes from the usual (irrational) anti-fossil fuel suspects who oppose all drilling, pipelines, and anything else to do with fossil fuels.
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MPLX $7M Fine/Settlement: Fix Air Pollution in PA-WV-OH-KY-TX-OK

MPLX, i.e. MarkWest Energy, has been slapped pretty hard by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, and several other state environmental agencies. Last Thursday the federal EPA serving as lead agency, announced a settlement with MPLX (and its various subsidiaries) to pay nearly $7 million in fines and corrective actions to cut down on air emissions at 21 of its plants in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Texas and Oklahoma. Of that total, $925,000 is a fine or “penalty” for violating clean air laws at the plants. The rest of the money will be spent on corrective actions to fix things and cut down on air emissions.
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PA Harms Drillers, Pipelines with Over-Strict Methane Rules

Fugitive Methane

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s Administration fiddled with regulations to cut down on so-called fugitive methane emissions from drilling and pipelines for years. The regulations are known as General Permit 5 (GP-5) and General Permit 5A (GP-5A). GP-5 applies to pipelines and compressor stations, while GP-5A applies to well pads and drilling. The new regs went into effect in August–but only for new, not existing sources of methane emissions. Have no fear, Wolf has a plan to apply the same onerous regulations to existing sources starting next year (see Other Shoe Drops: PA Methane Emissions Regs for Existing Sources). Here’s the thing, PA’s standards are worse (far tighter) than federal regulations from the Obama EPA. Earlier this week the Trump Administration proposed to right-size the Obama EPA’s overly-harsh methane regulations for oil and gas (see Trump EPA Releases Less Onerous Methane Regs for Oil & Gas). Yet Pennsylvania refuses to follow suit and relax their new, over-the-top regulations. Which means they are intentionally harming the shale industry in PA, putting it at a disadvantage to the shale industry in other states by making it harder (and much more costly) to do business in PA…
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EPA Proposes “Affordable Clean Energy” Plan to Replace Obama CPP

One more piece of the Obama “legacy”–the onerous, wildly unpopular Clean Power Plan (CPP) that assassinates coal powered energy and mortally wounds natural gas in favor of so-called renewable sources of energy–is now history. Well, it will be history after a few more years of legal wrangling. Let’s say the CPP is well on its way to the garbage can of history, where it belongs. The CPP (see The Many Flaws with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan) will be replaced by a new plan released last week by the federal EPA called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule. Instead of Big Brother dictating what power sources an individual state can and can’t use, ACE empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation. “The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable, and affordable energy for all Americans,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Hmmm, maybe we’re beginning to warm up to swamp-dweller Wheeler after all. If he can pull this off, we’ll feel better about leaving him as head of the agency…
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WVU to Research Fracking Effects on Cardiovascular Health

Building and operating a fracking site can emit some airborne particles. But scientists don’t fully understand how many, and how these particles may impact human health. Do drilling operations for unconventional wells emit a lot or a little in the way of particles? And do those particles affect human health? Travis Knuckles, assistant professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, has received $450,000 from the National Institutes of Health to investigate these questions. Knuckles will attempt to answer the question, Does fracking impact cardiovascular health–for workers and for those living nearby? We applaud real research efforts like this one…
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MarkWest Energy Settles EPA Air Pollution Case for $5.6 Million

NOTE: A previous version of this post reported a total price of $3.2 million, now changed to account for the addition of an extra $2.4M for required SEPs. See below.

Two MarkWest Energy subsidiaries, MarkWest Liberty Midstream Resources and Ohio Gathering Co., have been forced into signing a settlement of claims brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection over charges of releasing too much air pollution from facilities they operate throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania in the Utica and Marcellus shale. The agreement signed yesterday by MarkWest calls for the company to spend $2.6 million to install and operate new technologies to minimize VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions at their facilities–19 major, standalone facilities and 273 smaller facilities. The company will also implement three supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) for an additional $2.4 million. In addition, MarkWest will pay the government a $610,000 fine (i.e. shakedown). Total cost to get the government of out their hair: over $5.6 million. The government claimed MarkWest had not applied for nor complied with necessary permits. But the real disaster, the thing that sent government bureaucrats into fits, is that MarkWest failed to file proper paperwork required under the Clean Air Act. However, the settlement didn’t all go the government’s way. In agreeing to the settlement, MarkWest “expressly denies and does not admit any liability to the United States or PADEP arising out of the conduct, transactions or occurrences alleged in the complaint,” which means antis can’t file frivolous lawsuits against MarkWest over air pollution…
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EDF Launching $40M Satellite to Lie About O&G Methane Emissions

If the American Petroleum Institute (API) were to launch a satellite into space to monitor so-called fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas sites on the ground, would you believe the data they report coming from the satellite? We would, because the API is professional and doesn’t lie. But let’s face it, most people would see a clear conflict of interest. It would be better if a government agency, or perhaps a consortium of universities, were to launch such a research project. On the other hand, the Environmental Defense Fund, a far-left, profoundly biased and anti-fossil fuel organization is proposing to do just that–launch a $40 million satellite that supposedly will monitor methane emissions from oil and gas sites–specifically sites in Pennsylvania. Does anyone really believe that if this happens, the data the EDF will report will be objective? No, NOBODY believes such a thing. But it will give colluding/lying mainstream media an opportunity to continue their false narrative that methane is leaking everywhere causing Mom Earth to catastrophically heat up…
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PA DEP Releases Draft Final GP-5 & 5A Methane Regulations

Last December the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued “draft final language” for the proposed General Permit 5A (GP-5A) and the revised General Permit 5 (GP-5)–regulations that supposedly will cut down on fugitive methane from escaping from drill pads and pipelines (see PA DEP Signals Onerous New GP-5 & 5A Methane Regs Coming 1Q18). The onerous regulations, which for now only apply to *new* sources (not existing) were originally prompted by bullying from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. Even though EPA pressure has disappeared under President Trump, PA Gov. Wolf is still pushing these onerous new regs. GP-5 applies to pipelines and compressor stations, while GP-5A applies to well pads and drilling. Following a flood of new comments, the DEP tweaked the onerous regs once again (for maybe the third or fourth time) and last Friday afternoon, when nobody was working or looking or caring, the DEP published yet another revised final final final final final version of the regs (below). Are they any better than previous versions?…
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