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U.S. Supreme Court to hear regulations covering GHG emissions from stationary sources.  


Court lets stand endangerment finding and rules regulating emissions from automobile tailpipes.


On 15 October 2013 The US Supreme Court announced it will review the federal government's power to regulate greenhouse gases from fixed, stationary sources in an effort to head off global warming.  The Justices accepted six petitions for review, but said they would consider only a single question for all of them.

Supreme Court  

The granted issue is: "Whether EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases." 


In order to understand why the Court agreed to consider this "permissibly granted" question, it's worth reviewing the history of what led to the EPA regulations according to a post on the Web site "Legal Planet."


First, the Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA directed EPA to decide whether greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be regulated under the federal Clean Air Act.  EPA then found that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. The endangerment finding was upheld by the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court let stand that portion of the D.C. Circuit's opinion.


EPA's next decision was to issue the "tailpipe rule" that establishes greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles under the CAA.  The lower court held that the CAA required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions - that EPA had no choice under the language of the statute.  The tailpipe rules, too, remain untouched.


The third and fourth rules are what will be at issue before the Supreme Court. Those rules are known as the "timing" and "tailoring" rules. They work together roughly as follows:

  • Under EPA's view, the regulation of greenhouse gases for automobiles automatically triggers a different section of the CAA, what is known as the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) section which requires the EPA to regulate the emissions of any "major" source of a regulated pollutant.  "Major" is defined in the CAA as any source that emits 100 tons per year of a regulated pollutant.
  • The problem for the EPA is that the 100 tons per year amount would subject very, very small sources to the permitting provisions of the CAA, something that small sources have never had to comply with and that would be extremely expensive and administratively burdensome.  
  • So in the "tailoring" rule, the EPA only subjected large sources - new sources emitting 100,000 tons per year or more and existing sources making modifications that would increase emissions by 75,000 tons per year or more - to its greenhouse gas rules.  

The lower court found that the EPA is legally justified - indeed required - to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the PSD provisions of the act.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether that ruling - that the PSD provisions must be used to regulate greenhouse gases - is correct.


What this means to you

Stationary sources include a great many industrial engine applications.  Without EPA's tailoring rule, these engines could be considered a major source under the CAA's prevention of significant deterioration section and could therefore be subject to stricter emission limits.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss your emission control options based on the Supreme Court's ruling in this issue.

Colorado researchers to quantify methane emissions in gas compression gathering and processing. 
Colorado State University (CSU) is leading a groundbreaking field study to quantify methane emissions associated with natural gas gathering and processing according to a 15 October 2013 report in the Denver I-Journal.
CSU Engines and Energy Conservation Lab workers at a gas gathering and proc

CSU Engines and Energy Conservation Lab workers at a gas gathering and processing plant. 

This month, a team led by Anthony Marchese, mechanical engineering professor and new director of the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, will begin collecting data from potential methane sources associated with natural gas midstream facilities, between the wellhead and long-distance transmission pipelines.

This study will concentrate on the second stage in the natural gas supply chain - gathering and processing - where the gas is collected from the well, then compressed and processed to remove water, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and heavier hydrocarbons before entering the transmission system.

"Although some data exist on the larger processing plants, there is very little existing data on the methane emissions from other components of the gathering system," Marchese said. "Our study will provide additional independent assessment of emissions from the gathering and processing sector of the on-shore natural gas industry, and our measurements will create the baseline for future studies."

While larger gas processing facilities are required to report methane emissions to the EPA, Marchese said that the methods used in the CSU study are intended to help ensure that other midstream emissions sources are accounted for.

The results of this study will be linked to other studies already underway to allow an accurate, impartial, peer-reviewed and journal-published estimate of methane leakage throughout the entire natural gas supply chain.   

What this means to you

Limited data exists on methane emissions in gas compression gathering and processing.  The CSU study could show whether stricter methane emission controls are needed in this category.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss methane emission control options in gas compression gathering and processing.

Study of air quality in Barnett Shale
finds few health effects.

A review of air quality in the Barnett Shale using data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) finds that emissions related to natural gas production are below levels that would pose health concerns according to a 28 September 2013 report from the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

  Barnett Shale

The study, by Houston-based ToxStrategies, was funded by the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, an industry group. It was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study looked at 4.6 million measurements of targeted chemical compounds captured by seven monitors at six sites in the area from 2000 to 2011.


Those monitors, part of a TCEQ network, either automatically sample the air once an hour daily or collect one air sample for 24 hours every sixth day.  Most of the time, the monitors detected six volatile organic compounds that are particularly related to natural gas production: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, hexane and two forms of xylene, all of which are toxic. Benzene is a known carcinogen.


While those and other compounds were present, none were detected in concentrations high enough to be considered a short-term acute health threat, the study said. One other compound, 1,2-dibromoethane, was detected at an annual level considered to pose a long-term chronic health risk.


What this means to you

While funded by an industry group, this study does indicate that emissions from natural gas production are below levels that pose a health concern.  Still, environmental groups claim real people living near these compressor stations or well sites are suffering health effects.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss your well site or compressor engine emission control needs for units in the Barnett Shale region.

Call MIRATECH at 918-933-6232 for
Answers to RICE NESHAP Questions

What's the best way to get quick, smart answers to questions about the EPA's new RICE NESHAP regulations?
Compliance with these regulations is required by May 3, 2013 for compression ignition (CI) and by October 13, 2013 for spark ignition (SI) reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE). The regulations strengthen National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) as defined in 40 CFR, part 63, supart ZZZZ.  
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Email NESHAP@miratechcorp.com 
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  • Obtain product information
Call MIRATECH at 918-933-6232 or Email NESHAP@miratechcorp.com for answers to NESHAP questions.
TCEQ provides information on new eight-hour ozone plan for 10-County Dallas Fort Worth area. 
On 5 September 2013 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) held a public meeting to provide information on the development of revisions to the state implementation plan (SIP) for the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) in the 10-county Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) nonattainment area.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the primary and secondary eight-hour ozone NAAQS to 75 parts per billion on March 27, 2008.  As a result, the ten-county DFW area (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, and Wise Counties) was designated nonattainment and classified moderate under the 2008 eight hour ozone standard.  The attainment deadline for the DFW ozone nonattainment area is December 31, 2018.  TCEQ released its State Implementation Plan Development presentation for the DFW region at the 5 September 2013 meeting.


TCEQ's plans to demonstrate compliance with the 2008 eight-hour ozone NAAQS, include evaluating control strategies and control measures to reduce ozone precursor emissions (NOX and VOC), perform photochemical modeling to demonstrate attainment of the standard, and prepare a reasonable further progress (RFP) analysis to reduce NOX and VOC emissions from the base year of 2011 through attainment year. 


TCEQ's tentative timeline for developing and implementing the changes to the DFW area SIP is summarized below.

  1. Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) education complete by Spring 2014.
  2. Initial control measures stakeholder input by Summer 2014.
  3. Proposal agenda for RACT, RFP and attainment demonstration SIP revision and rules by December 2014
  4. Anticipated public comment period from December 2014 to January 2015
  5. Final Rule Adoption in May to June 2015

RACT measures for the DFW area must be implemented by January 17, 2017.


What this means to you

TCEQ is taking aggressive action for developing and implementing changes to DFW's eight-hour ozone nonattainment status.  Tighter emission control standards may be likely in the 10-county area.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss your emission control needs for engines operating in the DFW 10-county area.

California comprehensive fracking study may
take 18 months.


California Governor Jerry Brown said it may take as long as 18 months for California, the third-largest oil-producing state, to complete an environmental review of the oil and gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, according to a 28 October 2013 Bloomberg report.  California lawmakers approved regulations for state oversight of fracking in September.


The state's Monterey Shale field may hold 15.4 billion barrels -- two-thirds of the nation's shale-oil reserves, according to U.S. estimates. Environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute say fracking poses unacceptable risks of air and water pollution.


"I think we ought to give science a chance before deciding on a ban on fracking," Brown told reporters following a conference in San Francisco.  California's study will become "the most comprehensive environmental analysis of fracking to date," he said.  While groups have raised concerns about pollution from fracking, Brown said the drilling boom has also helped cut U.S. emissions as companies switch from burning coal to cheaper and less-carbon-intensive gas.


What this means to you

California's governor wants to "give science and chance before deciding on a ban on fracking."  It's likely the California study will be a comprehensive analysis that may become an industry standard.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss your emission control needs for engines operating in oil and gas fracking operations.
Climate pact signed by California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

On 28 October 2013, saying that the West Coast must lead the way in battling climate change, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with the premier of British Columbia, signed an agreement committing the Canadian province and the three states to coordinate global-warming policies according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

  West Coast Governors sign climate pact

Each state and the Canadian province promised to take roughly a dozen actions, including streamlining permits for solar and wind projects, better integrating the electric power grid, supporting more research on ocean acidification and expanding government purchases of electric vehicles.


It was clear, however, that the goals of the pact won't all be immediately achievable. California already has a cap and trade law, signed in 2006 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law, which requires oil companies, factories and power plants to hold permits for the carbon pollution they emit, took effect last year.


In 2008, British Columbia passed a carbon tax that raised the price of gasoline but was offset by a cut in corporate taxes and personal income taxes.


The governors of Oregon and Washington announced support for cap and trade policies. But they must now persuade their legislatures to pass laws to put the policies into effect.  In Washington state, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans, who have opposed cap and trade.


In a wider sense, however, the agreement was a strong political statement. The three Western states and British Columbia have 53 million people and an annual GDP of $2.8 trillion -- representing the fifth largest economy in the world.


What this means to you

With 53 million people and an annual GDP of $2.8 trillion - representing the fifth largest economy in the world - these three Western states and British Columbia could easily impact climate change emission regulations if they are able to coordinate activities.


MIRATECH can help

Contact MIRATECH to discuss your emission control needs for engines operating in these states and British Columbia.




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