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EPA proposes air emission rule

September 05, 2006
On August 21, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule under the Clean Air Act that would affect facilities that emit air emissions in Indian Country. The rule would apply to owners and operators of crude oil and natural gas production sites, natural gas collection systems and pipelines, natural gas plants, natural gas compressor stations, crude oil storage and distribution, and other industries that have air emission sources located in Indian country.

The proposed rule would be implemented by EPA or a delegate tribal agency assisting EPA with administration of the rules, until replaced by an EPA-approved tribal implementation plan for an area of Indian country. The proposed rule allows the reviewing authority to issue pre-construction permits for certain stationary sources of air pollution in Indian country. The proposed rule includes two parts.

The first rule would apply to new and modified minor sources (sources emitting less than 100 tons per year of a regulated pollutant) and to minor modifications at major stationary sources (sources emitting 100 tons per year or greater of a regulated pollutant). Sources subject to this rule would apply control technology, if any, as determined by the reviewing authority on a case-by-case basis. The second rule would apply to all new major stationary sources, and major modifications located in areas of Indian country that are designated as not attainment. EPA also proposed emission thresholds at which the rules would apply to minor emission sources.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s threshold for minor source permits is 40 tons per year of a regulated pollutant (not including hazardous air pollutants). EPA’s proposed rule in Indian country would be 10 tons per year carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, respectively, and 5 tons per year for volatile organic compounds. Oil and gas production sites with engines, produce condensate or have high throughputs of crude oil may easily trigger these thresholds. Also, facilities with hydrogen sulfide emissions would trigger the requirements at emission rates of 2 tons per year.

EPA defines Indian country to mean: all land within the limits of any Indian reservation under the jurisdiction of the United States government, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and including rights-of-way running through the reservation; all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States whether within the original or subsequently acquired territory thereof, and whether within or without the limits of a State; and all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not been extinguished, including rights-of way running through the same.

OIPA is evaluating EPA’s proposed rule and Senator Inhofe’s tribal provision included in the highway bill to determine the impacts to oil and natural gas operators in Oklahoma. Comments on this rulemaking are due to EPA on or before November 20, 2006.
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