In anticipation of an influx of shale gas drilling operations coming to the State, Ohio EPA decided to try and get ahead of the curve by developing an expedited permit to cover air emissions from such operations.
On February 1st, Ohio EPA issued a final air pollution general permit to cover production operations at shale gas well sites. By issuing the general permit, Ohio EPA is providing a path for shale gas operators to received expedited regulatory approval necessary to cover air emissions. Without the general permit, operators must obtain an individual air permit which can take longer and may be less certain as to terms and conditions for operations.
Applicants that meet the criteria, terms and conditions of the permit can expect to receive approval within weeks of applying. An individual air permit can take six months to issue. The process is expedited because all the terms and conditions of the permit are established up-front instead of after the application is filled.
The only issue with general permits is that they are one-size fits all templates. Meaning, you must be sure that your specific operation can meet the terms and conditions cause they can’t be changed or modified to meet your specific circumstances. Company’s that cannot live with the general permit terms & conditions can still apply for an individual air permit.
The Agency received many comments from both industry and environmental groups/concerned citizens on the draft permit released in October. The Agency announced that it had modified the permit to address the following concerns:
- restricts normal flare operation, increases total flare capacity and allows for emergency flaring to safely burn gas;
- requires installation of newer spark ignition internal combustion engines if total horsepower is to exceed 1300;
- removes a limit on the number of storage tanks and replaces it with a limit on the total volume of material stored in tanks;
- increases allowable dehydrators from one to two; removes unpaved roadways as an emissions unit (it is covered under another existing general permit); and
- removes the natural gas micro turbine emissions unit (it was determined to be exempt).