Fracing Disclosure Main Concern In Senate Energy Bill; Incentives For NG Vehicles Included

September 2010 Vol. 65 No. 9

While the fracing disclosure provision may bother shale gas producers, the bill's provision establishing a Natural Gas Vehicle and Infrastructure Development Program should warm their hearts, and the hearts of other natural gas players, including pipelines. The program would fund consumer rebates for purchase of natural gas vehicles. The bill also offers grants to refuelers for making NG pumps available at service stations, presumably. The consumer rebates would be worth up to 90 percent of the incremental cost of a qualified vehicle, but could be no more than $8,000 for a vehicle with a gross weight rating of not more than 8,500 pounds. The dollar cap would increase as the weight of the vehicle increased. The bill makes $3.8 billion available for those rebates.

EPA Considers Forcing Pipelines To Remove Remaining PCBs
The Environmental Protection Agency is considering requiring interstate and distribution pipelines to remove all Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from their pipelines by 2020. The EPA is in the very early stages of making a determination as to whether that is necessary, based on any public health or environmental threat that residual amounts of PCBs remain in pipelines.

PCBs were used as a fire retardant to the lubricating oil used in some pipeline compressor engines and turbines. Lubricating oils containing PCBs sometimes leaked from the compressors and could be carried downstream into natural gas distribution systems by small amounts of oily liquid hydrocarbons entrained in the natural gas.

EPA prohibited the use of PCBs at concentrations greater than 50 ppm in natural gas pipeline systems effective as of May 1, 1980. After nearly 30 years of operations and after all known sources of PCBs were removed from these systems, the EPA says it has information indicating that PCBs at levels greater than 50 ppm continue to be found in natural gas pipeline systems including within equipment which is not specifically designed to collect such material. The EPA is considering whether to require gas utilities to notify EPA "when PCBs are found in any pipeline system, regardless of the source of the PCBs or the owner of the pipeline." Second, the agency is considering the elimination of all PCBs at greater than or equal to 50 parts per million (ppm) in all distribution or pipeline systems.