4G Satellite May Threaten GPS; EPA cedes some ground on GHG monitoring

August 2011, Vol. 66 No. 8

EPA gives ground on greenhouse gas monitoring

The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to complaints from the natural gas and petroleum pipeline industries and softened some of the monitoring requirements for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which went into effect starting March 31, 2011. The EPA stepped back from elements of what is called the Subpart W requirements for the industry that the agency issued in late 2010. In that final rule, the agency restricted pipeline companies from using best available monitoring methods (BAMM) to determine leaks of fugitive and vented emissions from various compressor equipment and pipeline pumping equipment. BAMM allows companies to estimate emissions and is less costly than the prescriptive monitoring requirements which were included in the Subpart W final rule.

INGAA and the API filed lawsuits in early 2011 asking for broader use of BAMM, and the agency has now, via a proposed rule issued on June 28, given them new leeway, retroactive to March 31. Lisa Beal, vice president, environment and construction policy at INGAA, says she is satisfied that EPA loosened requirements related to 2011 reporting but remains frustrated the agency continues to implement the Subpart W rule in such a piecemeal fashion. "Our biggest issue remains the lack of a clear process for obtaining BAMM in the post 2012 time period," she adds.

In its proposed rule of June 27, the EPA essentially allowed pipelines to use BAMM without obtaining EPA prior approval until Dec. 31, 2011. With regard to use of BAMM beyond 2011, in the original final rule the EPA said BAMM could be used beyond Dec. 31 only if companies could prove extreme and unique circumstances. In the June 27 proposed rule, the agency removed the reference to extreme circumstances.