Center Criteria For Evaluating Fracking Projects
EPA and litigants WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance have agreed to a two-week extension – until April 17, 2012 - on a consent decree to issue air pollution standards for natural gas wells developed with hydraulic fracturing. EPA, under the consent decree, faced an April 3 deadline to complete rules to cut smog-forming and toxic emissions from gas wells, compressors, oil storage tanks and other oil-and-gas sector equipment. The agency requested the additional time to fully address the issues raised in the more than 156,000 public comments we received on the proposed rules.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for industrial categories that cause, or significantly contribute to, air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. Oil and gas production, processing, transmission and storage are significant sources of VOCs, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog). The law requires EPA to review new source performance standards every eight years.
The proposal would cut smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by nearly one-fourth across the oil and gas industry, including a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted from new and modified hydraulically fractured gas wells. This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through use of a proven technology to capture natural gas that currently escapes to the air.
Owners/operators of reciprocating compressors would have to replace rod packing systems every 26,000 hours of operation.
Pneumatic controllers: Pneumatic controllers are automated instruments used for maintaining a condition such as liquid level, pressure, and temperature at wells, gas processing plants, compressor stations, among other locations. These controllers often are powered by high-pressure natural gas. These gas-driven pneumatic controllers may release natural gas (including VOCs and methane) with every valve movement, or continuously in some cases.
For new or replaced pneumatic controllers at gas processing plants, the proposed limits would eliminate VOC emissions. These limits could be met through using controllers that are not gas-driven.
For controllers used at other sites, such as compressor stations, the emission limits could be met by using controllers that emit no more than six cubic feet of gas per hour. (The Hill, 4/2/2012, EPA)