DEP Opens Public Comment Period for New and Revised General Permits to Regulate Methane Requirements

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PA department of environmental

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has opened a 45-day public comment period to accept input on two permits and an inspection protocol for reducing methane at well sites and compressor stations associated with natural gas drilling and transport.
The comment period opened on Saturday, February 4, and will run until Tuesday, March 22, 2017. The proposal can be found here.
“The general permits and revisions are part of this administration’s overall commitment to reduce methane emissions,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The next step is to solicit additional feedback from stakeholders and the public so that we can ensure that the needs of Pennsylvania’s residents and industries are met.”
The proposals were drafted after discussions with industry stakeholders, environmental professionals and residents over the past year, following Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement of his initiative to improve air quality and help businesses reduce lost emissions. More details on the Governor’s overall methane reduction strategy can be found here.
The proposed General Plan Approval (GPA) and the revised General Permit 5A (GP-5A) permits establish Best Available Technology (BAT) practices for the industry regarding air emission limits, source testing, leak detection and repair, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for the applicable air contamination sources.
Facilities that would be regulated under the new GPA/GP-5A proposals include unconventional natural gas well site operations and remote pigging stations which are used for maintenance on pipelines and are not located on a well site. The proposed GPA/GP-5A revisions would affect compressor stations, transmission stations and processing plants. The revisions would also define eligibility for air quality permit exemptions.
The proposal also establishes that natural gas operators inspect within 30 days of the installation of a well pad, and quarterly after the well is put into production. Pennsylvania currently does not generally require methane monitoring, leak detection or control of fugitive emissions.
Interested persons may submit written comments on this draft proposal by 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. All comments, including comments submitted by electronic mail must include the originator’s name and address. Commentators are encouraged to review these proposed General Permits and submit comments using the Department’s online e-Comment tool or by email to
Written comments should be submitted to: The Policy Office, Department of Environmental Protection, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105 2063.