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The Ohio EPA has announced that a draft oil and gas well site general air permit is available for review and comment. This general permit is designed to cover air emissions from equipment installed for use during the production phase of a Marcellus or Utica/Point Pleasant shale oil and gas well. While a draft of the general permit has been available for review and the agency has been accepting input regarding the content of the permit for months, yesterday marked the official start of the 30-day public comment period and the administrative review process which will allow the permit to become effective. The general permit will cover the following pieces of equipment/operations at an oil and gas well site:
1. Glycol dehydration units with flash separators;
2. Natural gas-fired spark ignition internal combustion engines;
3. Diesel-fired compression ignition internal combustion engines;
4. Natural gas-fired micro turbines;
5. Water and/or petroleum liquid storage tanks;
7. Ancillary equipment leaks (designed to control leaks); and
8. Unpaved roadways.
Included for review are the qualifying criteria document and the Model General Permit terms. The qualifying criteria document is a document that must accompany an application for coverage under the oil and gas well-site general permit once it is issued in final form. All qualifying criteria must be met in order to qualify for the general permit. Ohio EPA is accepting comments on this document in addition to accepting comments on the Model General Permit terms. Comments must be submitted no later than November 28, 2011. You can view the permit and qualifying criteria document using this link: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/genpermit/genpermits.aspx.
Ohio EPA has also addressed ongoing development of oil and gas activities and air emissions during the pendency of the general permit. Under current rules and regulations, companies can and have applied for air emissions permits, but the permits are individual permits that are subject to a substantial administrative regulatory process that can result in significant delays for development of projects.
To ensure that ongoing development activities are not halted, Ohio EPA has announced that it is exercising its discretion not to penalize a company for failing to obtain an air permit before installing an oil and gas well as long as the company applies for the general permit within thirty (30) days of the general permit becoming available and follows certain steps.
Ohio EPA has requested that those companies that wish to avail themselves of a general permit rather than an individual permit provide a letter to the Ohio EPA indicating their intent to apply for a general permit when it becomes available. This approach is designed to reduce the work required in submitting, reviewing, and issuing individual permits until such time as the general permit is available. Those wishing to take advantage of this permit option must send a letter to the Ohio EPA District Office or Local Air Agency that is responsible for review of air permits in the area of the well. You can determine which office is responsible by reviewing the map at: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/general/dolaa.aspx. The letter should be directed to the individual identified on the map. Once the Oil & Gas General Permit is finalized, the agency will contact anyone who has submitted such a letter with the specific information on how to apply for the permit. Click here to read a sample notification letter.
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