On May 12, EPA finalized a set of regulations to directly or indirectly reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from upstream and midstream oil and natural gas (O&G) production activities.
NSPS OOOOa (4Oa): This New Source Performance Standard applies to all new and modified O&G production facilities. In addition to adding affected source types and new requirements, it expands on its predecessor rule, NSPS Subpart OOOO, by explicitly limiting methane emissions. Subpart 4O directly limited only emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), though EPA asserted that VOC emission reductions would indirectly reduce methane emissions. By explicitly controlling methane emissions from new O&G sources, EPA paves the way to limit methane emissions from existing sources per the Clean Air Act 111(d) provision (see below). CAA Section 111(d) was also recently used as the foundation for the temporarily stayed Clean Power Plan. NSPS 4Oa becomes effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register and applies to facilities constructed or modified after September 18, 2015.
Federal Implementation Plan (FIP): The FIP streamlines permitting for “true minor sources” within the O&G production and natural gas processing industry that operate inside Indian Country. As of October 3, 2016, qualifying facilities may choose, as an alternative to applying for a source-specific minor source permit, to register their equipment and operations. Registrations will be submitted in two stages with Part 1 due 30 days before constructing and Part 2 due within 60 days after starting production. Sources must also quantify the facility’s potential air pollutant emission rates within 30 days of starting production.
Source Determination: This rule specifies the limits of a single O&G production facility for air quality permitting purposes. A facility’s potential air pollutant emission rates are primary factors that determine which air quality rules will apply. Part of determining a facility’s potential to emit (PTE) is determining the extent of that facility. Federal rules define a facility based on three criteria: 1) all pollutant-emitting activities belong to a common industrial grouping; 2) they are all under common control; and 3) they are located on “contiguous or adjacent” properties. This rule expands on the definition of “adjacent” specifically for oil and gas extraction activities. For these sources, adjacent means activities on the same surface site or activities on separate surface sites which are within a quarter mile of each other and that share equipment.
Draft Control Technology Guidelines: This document, when finalized, will establish baseline technologies and methods for reducing VOC emissions from existing O&G production equipment and activities in areas that are not attaining the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. VOCs, along with nitrogen oxides, are primary precursor pollutants that form ozone in the atmosphere.
Notice of Information Collection Request: EPA is initiating an expansive request for methane emissions-related information from O&G companies. This exercise is part of a process for developing new federal regulations similar to the new NSPS Subpart OOOOa but that will apply to existing, rather than just new and modified, sources.
See this EPA website for links to all of the rules, proposals, and supporting documentation.