Letters to the Editor

Vol. 27 No. 1


Dear Editor,

Kudos to you for an excellent quick summary [in Winter ’12 NR&E Back Page] on the benefits of our environmental regulations and the comparisons with China. As a first generation environmental service industry practitioner I remember life in 1970s and the struggles we had with industry to adopt first line containment of wastes using slurry trench walls and engineered bentonite liners for waste piles, lagoons and landfills. Oh, the criticism and outright rage we met from production level managers incapable of any empathy for the environmental cause as it impeded production, costs and profits.

The battles were worth the struggle and no one today in consulting or industry could fathom those attitudes, but it took courage and discipline by regulators and enforcement officers to put teeth into the laws with compliance by fines, penalties and litigation and most times artfully persuasive negotiations.

Our clean air and water are also the result of creative cleanup technology innovators who pioneered treatment skills and applications today taken for granted.  . . .

The best news is this US partnership in regulations and science continues to perform and astonish the world when they attend the technical conferences like Battelle hosts.  All good stuff.

Thanks again for your contribution and wise words.

Bruce S. Beattie

Dear Editor,

We are writing to point out some misperceptions created in the article “Fugitive Emissions: The Marcellus Shale and the Clean Air Act,” published in the Winter 2012 issue. The article created the misguided impression that Pennsylvania’s new “aggregation” guidance allows oil and gas activities to avoid Clean Air Act regulation. But aggregating several units into a single permit does not necessarily create fewer emissions or provide greater environmental protection.

First, the guidance does not mandate non-aggregation of oil and gas operations. Instead, it provides a consistent approach to applying the aggregation factors in the unique context of oil and gas operations, which are not easily assessed under a traditional aggregation analysis.

Second, Pennsylvania’s minor source permitting program does not allow oil and gas operations to circumvent CAA requirements. The upstream operations of the oil and gas industry are subject to many federal regulations, including NSPS Subparts Kb, KKK, LLL, IIII, and JJJJ, and NESHAP Subparts HH and ZZZZ, and EPA has recently promulgated new regulations (NSPS Subpart OOOO). Under federal law, Pennsylvania must implement each of these regulations as part of its State Implementation Plan.

Finally, aggregation of minor sources into a single Title V air permit provides no additional environmental protection. Title V does not create substantive requirements. Moreover, minor source programs have been determined by both EPA and Pennsylvania to be protective of the environment. In fact, minor source operations often include additional controls to limit emissions that would not otherwise be required in a major source permit.

Don Shandy and Ricky Pearce, Ryan Whaley Coldiron Shandy PLLC, Oklahoma City, OK

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