EPA-Mandated PCB Removal Could Cost Billions

December 2010 Vol. 65 No. 12

James Rower, executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, says the EPA must have "substantial evidence" to reverse its 1998 use exemption. Natural gas transportation associations, who are part of Rower's group, agree with that position.

Over the years, both transmission and distribution pipelines have reduced the amount of PCBs in their systems via gas dryers and liquid separators, such as scrubbers and filters and drips, to remove water and hydrocarbons that have condensed from the gas stream. The AGA says its 2010 survey indicates that the responding utility members have removed over 58,000 gallons of hydrocarbon liquids containing greater than 50 ppm PCBs from natural gas distribution and intra-state transmission systems over the last 12 years.

"INGAA strongly opposes narrowing or eliminating this use authorization, and believes it is not necessary to do so to protect the public health," says Lisa Beal, director, environment and construction policy, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. "Despite the substantial measures taken by the natural gas pipeline industry to manage residual PCBs in certain natural gas pipelines, it is simply impossible to remove all PCBs from the entire transmission system to the standards proposed by the EPA in the ANPRM."

EPA Sets Final Rule For Greenhouse Gas Measurement
The EPA made a number of concessions to the natural gas industry in its final greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring and reporting rule which the agency published at the end of October. The so-called "Subpart W" rule -- 288 pages of complex technical language and charts -- lays out the equipment in various natural gas and petroleum sectors which must be monitored for a group of GHGs, and prescribes the methods for that monitoring. The requirement kicks in on Jan. 1, except that for calendar year 2011, pipelines and other gas sectors can use what is called best available monitoring methods (BAMM) when "it is not reasonably feasible to acquire, install or operate a required piece of monitoring equipment in a facility, or to procure measurement services from necessary providers." Best available monitoring methods are any of the following methods: monitoring methods currently used by the facility that do not meet the specifications of a relevant subpart; supplier data; engineering calculations; or other company records.