The Department of Environmental Protection this week alerted companies involved in unconventional natural gas development across Pennsylvania that they must submit to the agency data on their facilities’ air emissions for 2011. The reports are due March 1, 2012.
“The use of natural gas for fuel will have very beneficial impacts on air quality, and we want to ensure we are protecting the quality of Pennsylvania’s air as we access and bring to market this abundant, domestic fuel source,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.
This week, the agency is initially asking 99 operators identified as being involved in natural gas development, production, transmission, processing and related activities to respond with the necessary data.
DEP submits emissions inventories to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every three years. The next comprehensive inventory, to be submitted by Dec. 31, 2012, will include point sources, such as refineries and manufacturing plants; area sources, such as auto body shops, dry cleaners and gas stations; on-road and non-road mobile sources; and naturally occurring biogenic sources, like oak, pine and maple trees, which all produce a naturally occurring volatile organic compound.
The 2012 submittal will be DEP’s first inventory that includes emissions data for Marcellus Shale natural gas production and processing operations.
“Emissions inventories like this are important tools that give us a metric to help ensure that we are maintaining air standards across the board,” Krancer said. “We have seen some significant improvements in air quality in Pennsylvania recently and we will keep that up.”
He noted that DEP’s short-term ambient air sampling, conducted in 2010 in Bradford, Greene, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington counties, did not identify any emission levels that would constitute a public health concern. Long-term monitoring studies will begin in 2012, and the emissions data DEP is starting to collect now will aid in the selection of several long-term monitoring sites.
The sources and activities at natural gas operations that DEP has identified as subject to the emissions reporting requirements include compressor stations; dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitives, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.
DEP is asking operators for emissions data for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter of a certain size, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and total hazardous air pollutants, among others.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the Air Emissions Inventory button.