EPA To Host Public Hearing In Denver On Quad Oa Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing Wednesday on revisions proposed in September to an Obama-era rule on regulating methane emissions.
The EPA’s proposed rule “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration,” according to the agency, will “significantly reduce regulatory burden, saving the industry tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs each year.”
Another goal is to bring existing state programs and EPA’s rule into alignment, including allowing operators to fulfill existing state requirements as a substitute for the federal requirements.
The all-day public hearing will be held in Denver at EPA’s Region 8 office.
The original rule was finalized in 2016, and includes a provision, known as “Subpart OOOOa” or more commonly, “Quad Oa,” that aims to address “fugitive emissions” from equipment and processes in the oil and natural gas industry. The rule emphasizes leak detection and repair programs to regulate methane emissions.
According to EPA, fugitive emissions “can occur at several points at a well site or compressor station when connections are not properly fitted, hatches are not properly weighted and sealed, or when seals and gaskets start to deteriorate.”
The proposal indicates that its current review of state and local programs demonstrate that “several are at least equivalent to the fugitive emissions monitoring, repair and recordkeeping requirements included in the proposed rule.”
The states EPA determined met requirements in lieu of NSPS are California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.
Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would begin to review the rule in April 2017, after the Trump White House issued an executive order to roll back parts of the previous administration’s climate agenda.
“This action proposes reconsideration amendments to the new source performance standards (NSPS) . . . The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received petitions for reconsideration on the 2016 NSPS OOOOa,” according to an EPA summary at the Federal Register.
In their technical fact sheet, EPA outlined more specifically the additional aims of the reconsideration.
“The proposed amendments address a range of technical issues in response to administrative petitions and would clarify certain requirements in the rule. They include proposed changes to the frequency for monitoring fugitive emissions (also known as ‘leaks’) at well sites and compressor stations; requirements for pneumatic pumps at well sites, and requirements that a professional engineer certify when meeting those requirements is technically infeasible,” the fact sheet said.
The agency added that the proposal includes addressing implementation issues raised in over the past two years, as well as making “technical corrections and amendments to further clarify the rule.”
EPA issued a notice in September that it would begin to propose these “targeted improvements” to the NSPS for “oil and gas industry that streamline implementation, reduce duplicative EPA and state requirements, and significantly decrease unnecessary burdens on domestic energy producers.”
The agency estimated that the proposed revisions would save as much as $484 million in regulatory costs between 2019 and 2025. That’s roughly $75 million annually, EPA said.
EPA said other issues from the broader 2016 rule will be addressed in a separate proposal at an unspecified later date.
Comments on the proposed rulemaking must be received by December 17.