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August 8, 2013

PA DEP Finalizes Air Quality Permit Criteria For Marcellus Gas Well Sites

Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that operators of unconventional natural gas wells will no longer be unconditionally exempt from seeking an air quality plan approval which authorizes the construction and temporary operation of air emissions sources for well sites.  Blanket exemptions had been granted in Pennsylvania since 1996. Although the unconditional exemption no longer exists, the DEP also issued revised technical guidance indicating that an operator may be granted a permitting exemption provided that it will implement air emission controls and practices more stringent than that required under applicable federal rules. The PA DEP’s announcement, DEP Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo states that:
“Governor Corbett’s continued leadership on energy and environmental issues has put Pennsylvania in a unique position - air quality has improved over the past few years at the same time the state’s energy portfolio continues to expand the development and use of natural gas[.]  We fully expect both of those trends to continue, and this strategy builds on existing federal requirements by continuing to set the high, but fair, bar we have come to expect[.]”
The final technical guidance is expected to be made available on the DEP's website in the near future.


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