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Ohio EPA proposes uniform permitting for oil, gas compressor emissions


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Ohio EPA proposes uniform permitting for oil, gas compressor emissions

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on April 7 proposeduniform permitting requirements for emissions from oil and gas compression equipment.

"Currently, air emissions from these common pieces of equipmentare subject to more lengthy case-by-case permits. By contrast, applications forgeneral permits follow a template," the Ohio EPA said. "These generalpermits would allow the agency to ensure it protects the environment and frees upvaluable staff resources to work on complex permit issues."

Under the Ohio EPA's proposal, operators of oil and natural gasmidstream compressor stations would be able to apply for general equipment permits— rather than case-by-case permits — that require companies to use state-of-the-artequipment and methods to control emissions. The permits would also have operatorsmeet certain standards for monitoring, record-keeping and reporting.

While the agency did create separate general permits for a numberof different system components, the Ohio EPA said the new permits would still freeup resources at the regulator and streamline the process for operators, too. TheOhio Oil and Gas Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The proposed permitting requirements tackle methane leaks fromvalves, pressure relief devices, pump seals and compressor seals, among other things.Specifically, the agency would have operators use infrared cameras to check formethane leaks on a quarterly basis for at least a year. After the first year, themonitoring intervals would become more dependent on how many leaks are found. Theproposal would have operators fix leaks within five days of finding them.

The Environmental Defense Fund welcomed Ohio's proposal, underscoringthe value of implementing monitoring systems for leaks. Research has shown thata relatively small number of leaks are emitting a disproportionately high volumeof the methane that escapes from oil and gas systems, but which pieces of equipmentwill become so-called super-emitters is hardto predict, EDF noted.

"Leak detection and repair policies of the sort being proposedtoday are critical to addressing the super-emitter problem," EDF said in anApril 7 blog post. "By addressing these emissions, Ohio can help protect healthand the environment in Ohio communities at extremely modest cost."

The proposal also encompasses a host of other emissions, includingsulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds andparticulates.

The Ohio EPA requested comments on the proposal by May 18.