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In Texas, the EPA has informed a sizable number of oil refiners, chemical and plastics manufacturers that they need to bring their air pollution permits in line with federal and not Texas state levels.

All but three of the 74 companies have informed the Environmental Protection Agency that they will bring the state-issued permits into compliance with federal law within the next year.

This action is in response to the on-going conflict between federal air quality standards, and Texas state legislation which allows for so-called flexible permits. The permits in question require refineries, chemical plants and other facilities to meet an overall emissions cap but allows them to choose how to do so. Federal rules, however, require plants to limit emissions of certain pollutants from each source within a facility.

With this turn of events, it appears that even while Texas is still battling the EPA on this issue, industry in general in Texas is bringing itself in line with federal standards.

Commenting on Texas industries Al Armendariz, the EPA’s administrator based in Dallas stated “They understand these permits are an anomaly,” adding that none of the companies has indicated that it will sue to keep its flexible permit. “It’s now a question of how do they fix them instead of whether they should”.

Texas has filed suit to block the EPA’s disapproval of flex permits, asserting that there is no legal or technical justification for the federal agency’s action.

The EPA rejected the state’s use of the permits in June, saying they fall short of the federal Clean Air Act’s requirements. But those with the permits reacted slower than Armendariz liked, so he threatened fines and other penalties if they did not move by Dec. 22 to resolve their permits.

The EPA would not say which companies failed to meet the deadline because of the possibility of taking enforcement action against them. But Armendariz said his staff had heard from the 30 largest permit-holders, which account for roughly 90 percent of emissions released under flexible permits.

Pam Giblin, an Austin-based Baker Botts attorney who represents many large flexible permit holders, said industry waited to respond until the EPA had explained how to make their permits comply — and not in protest.

Pollutants and permits

The single overall cap, the EPA argues, makes the Texas permits nearly unenforceable and allow plants to emit more than similar facilities in other states. But state officials say the system cuts red tape and pollution without violating federal law.

TCEQ spokesman Andy Saenz said companies “must decide for themselves how to deal with EPA’s overreaching and unnecessary regulatory demands. The TCEQ is not requiring any ‘fix’ but the agency is accommodating any legally viable transition option that flex permit holders may choose to exercise.”

The EPA has encouraged companies to follow the leads of Flint Hills Resources and INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA – both of which agreed to apply for new state-issued permits after negotiating some terms and conditions with the federal agency.

That’s important because the agreements ensure that the state permits will meet federal requirements, said Ilan Levin, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, which has filed legal challenges to some of the flexible permits.

Request for transparency

“The devil is in the details, and the TCEQ hasn’t been willing to guarantee that these be done in a transparent way,” Levin said.

Valero Energy Corp., for example, has asked TCEQ to set limits for each emissions source at its plants, but to leave the rest of the permit alone. The state has issued new permits for five of the San Antonio company’s six Texas facilities, although the EPA has raised concerns about whether the revisions are federally compliant.

Valero spokesman Bill Day said the company is talking with the EPA to resolve their differences.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

(Denver, Colo. – January 3, 2010)  Gasco Energy, Inc., the former operator of the Riverbend Compressor Station on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation near Vernal, Utah, has agreed to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the facility by paying a $350,000 penalty and providing for air pollution controls at its facilities in the Uinta Basin.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced the details of the agreement under a consent decree lodged last Thursday in Salt Lake City.

“Under this agreement, Gasco and its successors will make significant investments to reduce emissions from facilities throughout the Uinta Basin,” said Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver.  “EPA will continue to work with partners, including oil and gas operators, to protect air quality resources for the benefit of those who live in the basin.”

According to a complaint filed with the settlement, Gasco allegedly violated several provisions of the Clean Air Act at the Riverbend facility including emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, as well as federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements.  The company disclosed the violations voluntarily.

The compressor station at the Riverbend facility compresses field gas for transportation through a gathering line, and removes liquids and water from the gas by separation and dehydration.  As part of the agreement, emission controls on dehydrators, compressor engines and storage tanks will be installed at Riverbend.  In addition, Gasco and its successors will install no-bleed or low-bleed pneumatic controls on gas compressors and well heads at all operating facilities in the Uinta Basin.  A pneumatic is a controller that uses pressurized pipeline gas to open or close valves.  The use of low-bleed units reduces emissions of air pollutants and conserves product.

EPA estimates that measures taken as a result of this agreement, when fully implemented, will reduce air pollution by more than 550 tons per year. These reductions include 122 tons of carbon monoxide, 427 tons of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants per year.   These pollutants can contribute to respiratory disorders such as asthma and reduced lung capacity, and many can adversely impact the heart, brain and nervous system.  They can also damage ecosystems and reduce visibility.

Expected reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, are equivalent to the annual carbon sequestration of 7,300 acres of pine forest, or comparable to taking more than 6,600 cars off the road each year.  These investments will also conserve product.  The natural gas conserved is enough to heat more than 1,000 homes annually.

The consent decree was lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

PHILADELPHIA (January 4, 2011) – Four Prisons in the State of Pennsylvania have reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency of alleged Clean Air Act violations. The settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and the Department of General Services, includes provisions that will include new pollution control technology being installed, and  additional reporting requirements at the four correctional facilities in Muncy, Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Somerset, Pa.

“Today’s settlement will improve the air quality in four Pennsylvania communities,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.  “It’s important that all sources of air emissions, including prisons, comply with environmental regulations to ensure that the standards are met in nearby communities.”

The exact terms of the settle require each location to make improvements to its boiler plants to reduce emissions, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides. These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, exacerbate cases of childhood asthma, and create haze.  Under the agreement, the Department of Corrections will also pay a civil penalty of $300,000.

The specific new improvements that are scheduled to be installed include a new Baghouse (Dust Collector) to reduce particulate matter at the Rockview facility. Other locations will switch from coal-fired boilers to cleaner gas-fired versions. In some locations the new gas-fired boilers will be installed, in others existing equipment will be used in a larger capacity, while phasing out the older coal-fired equipment.

This settlement has reporting obligations to ensure the prisons stay on schedule with the terms of the agreement.  Should the facilities’ boilers fail to meet the requirements, they will be subject to stipulated penalties, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per day contingent on the type and length of the violation.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

A full list of the proposed changes can be found below:

  • Baghouse to control particulate matter will be installed at the Rockview facility;
  • New gas-fired boiler units at the Laurel Highlands facility will be constructed;
  • Coal-fired boiler units at the Muncy facility will be shut down and replaced by an existing natural gas- fired boiler; and
  • The Huntingdon facility is required to either add particulate matter controls, or convert to gas-fired boiler units.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.