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Revisions to the PADEP Plan Approval and Permit Exemption List

by JP K.
JP K.

Attention compressed natural gas dispensing, oil and gas exploration, development, production facilities!  The PADEP has published a notice in the Pa. Bulletin that the listing of sources or classes of sources which may be exempt from the Plan Approval requirements of 25 Pa. Code Chapter 127 (relating to construction, modification, reactivation and operation of sources) is being revised and may include your processes.

The original listing of these exemption determinations can be found in technical guidance document No. 275-2101-003 (Air Quality Permit Exemptions).  The PADEP has re-proposed a draft of this technical guidance document.

Highlights of the revised categories and requirements for exemption are listed below:

Category No. 33 - pertaining to compressed natural gas dispensing:

  • Combined NOx emissions from the stationary internal combustion engines at a facility are less than 100 lbs/hr, 1000 lbs/day, 2.75 tons per ozone season and 6.6 tons per year on a 12-month rolling basis.
  • Combined VOC emissions from all the sources at the facility, excluding emissions from sources which are approved by Plan Approvals, General Permits, or approved under Category 33(a), are less than 2.7 tons on a 12-month rolling basis.  If the VOCs include HAPs, additional HAP exemption criteria apply.
  • The owner or operator uses forward looking infrared (''FLIR'') detection or any other leak detection monitoring device or process approved by the Department for the detection of leaks.  Additional requirements apply if a leak is detected.

Category No. 38 - pertaining to oil and gas exploration, development, production facilities and associated equipment:

  • Wells, wellheads, and associated equipment are subject to 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO provided the following criteria, as applicable, are met.
  • Conventional wells, wellheads and associated equipment.
  • The owner or operator uses forward looking infrared (''FLIR'') detection or any other leak detection monitoring device or process approved by the Department for the detection of leaks. Additional requirements apply if a leak is detected.
  • Storage vessels/storage tanks equipped with VOC emission controls are achieving emission reduction of 95% or greater.
  • Combined VOC emissions from all the sources at the facility, excluding emissions from sources which are approved by Plan Approvals, General Permits, or well heads, storage vessels/tanks, and flaring operations meeting the exemption, are less than 2.7 tons on a 12-month rolling basis.  If the VOCs include HAPs, additional HAP exemption criteria apply.
  • Flaring operations used at a wellhead are subject to 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO requirements and flaring used for certain exploration wells, enclosed flares, unenclosed flares, and emergency or safety flare operations.
  • Combined NOx emissions from the stationary internal combustion engines at a facility are less than 100 lbs. /hr., 1000 lbs. /day, 2.75 tons per ozone season and 6.6 tons per year on a 12-month rolling basis.

The changes to exemption No. 38, if implemented as is, will impact developers of wells that are subject to 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart OOOO (i.e., wells that are hydraulically fractured).  The proposed exemption No. 38 is conditional, meaning that an owner/operator using the exemption will be required to perform regular leak surveys and track actual emissions to ensure that the operation remains in “compliance” with the conditions for exemption, in addition to maintaining compliance with Subpart OOOO. Conventional wells will apparently remain under an unconditional exemption, consistent with the current exemption No. 38.  However, it is interesting to note that the term “conventional well” as used within exemption No. 38 is not defined in §121.1 of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control regulations.  Conventional wells are defined in PADEP’s ACT 13 Frequently Asked Questions document.  To view this document, please click here.

The PADEP is accepting written comments on the proposed exemption Category No. 38 until March 19, 2013.  Note that comments received by facsimile will not be accepted!

Stay tuned for notice of when the PADEP publishes the technical document in its final-form following the comment period.

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