Pipeline VOC Emission Limits Soon To Be Finalized; EPA Makes Changes To Pipeline GHG Reporting Rule

February 2012, Vol. 67 No. 2

INGAA isn't the only critic of EPA's intended actions. State regulators will have to issue many more permits to gas transmission facilities as a result of the regulatory expansion. "From a regulatory perspective, these rules will significantly increase the permitting and enforcement workload for TCEQ as the delegated administrator," says Mark Vickery, executive director, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Again, though they address some of the same pollutants, the NSPS and NESHAP programs use different thresholds to determine equipment subject to VOC limits. The NSPS program uses a performance standard which reflects the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) which the EPA determines has been adequately demonstrated.

NESHAPs apply only to "major sources'' defined as facilities that emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons per year (tpy) or more of a single HAP or 25 tpy or more of any combination of HAP. NESHAPs are based on a maximum achievable control technology (MACT). That floor is the average level of HAP emission control achieved by the top 12 percent of that industry group's currently operating sources.

The EPA is required to finalize NSPS and NESHAP standards for gas transmission pipeline by Feb. 28 because of the terms of a consent decree the agency signed as the result of a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups, the WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

EPA makes changes to pipeline GHG reporting rule
The EPA also made some decisions about another pipeline emissions rule at the end of December. This is the rule that requires pipelines to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2011 to the EPA. There is no limit on those emissions, at least not yet; there is just a reporting requirement for emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O.

On Dec. 23, 2011, the agency announced its final changes to subpart W -- that is the section of the overall GHG reporting rule which applies to petroleum and natural gas industry emissions. The agency made some definitional changes, which, depending on a company's operations, could be significant -- or not. For example, the definition of what a transmission pipeline is was narrowed to mean a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rate-regulated interstate pipeline, a state rate-regulated intrastate pipeline or a pipeline that falls under the ``Hinshaw Exemption'' as referenced in the Natural Gas Act.