Pennsylvania DEP Issues New Permits Aimed to Further Regulate Methane Emissions from the Natural Gas Industry
On November 30, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued in final form a new and a revised general permit meant to address methane emissions from the natural gas industry. The permits which were initially placed to public notice in February 2017, will next be considered by the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee during its meeting on December 14, 2017. Assuming the committee approves the permits, the agency hopes to place them into effect in 2018.
The new general permit GP-5A applies to unconventional well site operations and pigging stations which are used for maintenance on pipelines, and which are not located on well sites. The permit supersedes the provisions of what is commonly referred to as Exemption 38 for these activities which provided exemptions to both conventional and unconventional well sites from air quality permitting. The exemption will remain in place for existing unconventional gas well sites as well as for existing and new conventional oil and gas well sites.
The revised general permit GP-5 continues to apply to compressor stations, transmission stations, and processing plants, but contains additional requirements and controls related to methane emissions.
Both permits would require that operators employ best available technology with regard to air emissions, source testing, and leak detection and repair, and would further require additional record-keeping and reporting requirements. Operators would be required to conduct initial inspections within 30 days of the installation of a well pad and then perform further quarterly inspections related to methane emissions.