2008 Ozone SIP Updates and Associated Rule Changes
On November 17, 2016, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted unanimously to approve a moderate area State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the Denver Metro and North Front Range ozone nonattainment area (DNFRM). The regulatory revisions and compliance strategies impacted many industries from manufacturing to transportation and energy. As such, COGA coordinated with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), and other affected industries on overarching policy elements. Overall, COGA met its rulemaking objectives in successfully limiting the scope to keep additional oil and gas controls out of this rulemaking.
The rulemaking was necessary to satisfy requirements of the Clean Air Act. In 2012, the Denver Metro/North Front Range Area was designated as marginal nonattainment for the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. Because the region did not demonstrate attainment by the end of the 2014 ozone season, the region was re-designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a moderate nonattainment area and requires the development and submittal of a SIP for this standard. The Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) and Air Pollution Control Division anticipate submitting all SIP elements by July 2017 (including legislative review).
With respect to oil and gas, COGA supported many aspects of the Division’s proposal, which was generally adopted by Commission with minor changes. This included incorporation of the combustion device auto-igniter requirement into the SIP and establishment of condensate storage tank audio, visual, and olfactory (AVO) inspection requirements. COGA evaluated the proposals and believes the measures represent a common sense, reasonable, and practical approach that will strengthen the SIP, and support the state’s emissions inventory, while continuing to ensure significant emissions benefits across Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry.
COGA members worked closely with the Division and the RAQC to provide extensive site-specific data about emissions at their facilities. As a result, the oil and gas emissions inventory underlying the RAQC’s photochemical modeling is more detailed and accurate than it has ever been, accurately reflecting actual emissions at today’s “state of the art” facilities. Among other things, this means an over 50% reduction in VOC emissions from storage tanks projected next year.
Of particular note was the Environmental Defense Fund and the Denver/Boulder Local Government Coalition (LGC) request for the Commission to direct a stakeholder process in 2017 to further address emissions from oil and gas sources. COGA moved to strike portions of the EDF and LGC statements as falling outside the scope of the rulemaking. The hearing officer ruled on the motion on October 24 partially agreeing with COGA’s position in striking EDF’s exhibit purporting to advance specific technologies.
COGA participated early on in the process, including RAQC and APCD stakeholder meetings. COGA presented to the RAQC stationary sources subcommittee on the topic of intermittent pneumatic controls, and submitted a follow-up letter rebutting EDF’s proposals. This early engagement was instrumental in confining the rulemaking scope to include only two minor Oil and Gas provisions.
While not specifically directed as part of the rulemaking, the Division re-iterated their commitment to a stakeholder process in early 2017 to address additional oil and gas controls. This is required by EPA’s recent promulgation of oil and gas Control Techniques Guidelines (CTGs) which requires all ozone nonattainment areas to review and incorporate some or all of the CTGs as RACT into their SIP. While the stakeholder process should be confined to a review of the CTGs, it is likely that EDF and others will push for a broader effort addressing more oil and gas controls than what is covered just by the CTGs. We can also anticipate a push to make the Colorado Regulation No. 7 LDAR program more stringent as well as an attempt to limit emissions from intermittent pneumatic devices. The stakeholder process will culminate in another SIP rulemaking focused on oil and gas sometime in the next 24 months. COGA will actively participate in this process.