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The National Environmental Policy Act and Oil and Gas Development in Region 8. WESTAR Oil and Gas Conference October 22, 2008. EPA’s role in NEPA. Few EIS’s or EA’s are prepared by EPA -Wastewater treatment facility grants -Non-delegated program permits

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The National Environmental Policy Act and Oil and Gas Development in Region 8

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The National Environmental Policy ActandOil and Gas DevelopmentinRegion 8

WESTAR Oil and Gas Conference

October 22, 2008


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EPA’s role in NEPA

  • Few EIS’s or EA’s are prepared by EPA

    -Wastewater treatment facility grants

    -Non-delegated program permits

    -Some permits on tribal lands

  • Section 309 of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to review all EIS’s from other Agencies and make written comments available to the public

  • Further CEQ and EPA guidance establishes a rating process for all EIS’s


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EPA’s Rating System

Adequacy of the Impact Statement

  • 1- Adequate

  • 2-Insufficient Information

  • 3-Inadequate Information


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EPA’s Rating System

Environmental Impact of the Action

  • LO (Lack of Objections)

  • EC (Environmental Concerns)

  • EO (Environmental Objections)

  • EU (Environmentally Unsatisfactory)

    • Potential violation of environmental standard

    • Sig. in severity, duration and scope

    • National Importance


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EPA’s Role in NEPA

  • If adverse: “3” and/or Environmentally Unsatisfactory (EU):

  • EPA may refer the issue to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality for resolution.

  • Creates an administrative record

  • Can create signficant media attention

  • Environment not being protected


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BLM RMP Revisions

(# wells)

39 Class I National Park and Wilderness Areas


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Jonah Field Location


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The Jonah Infill Development Project EIS

  • BLM lead agency

  • Most dense gas development in region

  • Currently about 800 wells on 40 acre spacing

  • Proposed infill of 3100 additional wells on 5 acre spacing

  • Field to provide gas needs for 22 million households for 11 yrs: the entire western U.S.

  • Seventy miles from the Class I Bridger and Fitzpatrick Wilderness Areas


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31 Days of Visibility Impairment at Bridger

+80% NOx Reduction in Rigs

After 5 years an annual demonstration that impacts are 0 days

+90% NOx reduction to date


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Summary

  • The Jonah Infill EIS process demonstrates what can be accomplished through successful collaboration between the federal agencies and active state involvement, in this case EPA, BLM and Wyoming DEQ.

  • Bottom line: Environmental protection and energy development are not mutually exclusive. Collaboration can find a way.


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EPA Region 8Air Quality Analysesfor Oil and Gas Activities under NEPA

Federal Leadership Forum

September 23, 2008


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Checklist for AQ Analysis in Oil and Gas Activities Under NEPA

  • The Checklist covers key issues for EPA in reviewing AQ Analyses under NEPA

    • Need for Checklist is based on a continued “string” of poor air quality analysis

    • EPA’s continued effort to improve NEPA documents and avoid adverse ratings.

    • Inform agencies about EPA’s expectations

    • Encourage better collaboration and better stakeholder processes

    • Mitigation


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Presentation Overview

  • Air Quality Workgroup and Modeling Protocol

  • Air Quality Analysis in Planning-Level NEPA Documents

  • Air Quality Analysis in Project-Level NEPA Documents

  • Mitigation

  • EPA Contacts


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Importance of an AQ Workgroup and AQ Protocol

  • Based on our prior experience, EPA recommends:

    • Inter-agency AQ workgroup be formed

    • AQ Analysis Protocol be developed and vetted with the AQ Workgroup

      • The Protocol provides a roadmap for how analysis will be conducted and the results presented

    • Formal recognition that workgroup agrees or has the option of elevating unresolved issues

    • All significant issues be resolved prior to initiating modeling

  • Collaboration requires more time up front, but will save time later


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AQ Analysis in Planning-LevelNEPA Documents

  • Given the wide range of planning and project-level decisions, the level of AQ analysis is considered case-by-case.

  • The level of analysis needs to support the level of decision being made and the “area” specific issues.


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Planning-Level NEPA Documents

  • EPA Region 8 considers the following factors in evaluating the appropriate level of air quality analysis:

  • Number of projected oil and gas wells.

  • Distance of the planning area from Class I airsheds.

  • Distance from other sensitive receptors (i.e., National Parks, Class II areas, sensitive populations).


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Planning-Level NEPA Documents Factors to Consider in NEPA Reviews continued

  • Distance from areas approaching a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

  • Availability of recent, relevant, and comprehensive AQ modeling data prior to management planning Draft EIS.

  • Whether relevant, comprehensive and cumulative AQ analysis is concurrently completed with a project-specific EIS in the management planning area.

  • Potential for cumulative adverse impacts to AQ from projects in adjacent planning areas.


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Example of How EPA Region 8 Has Applied These Factors

  • Little Snake RMP Draft EIS

    • More than 3,000 potential oil and gas wells

    • Proximity of the planning area to five Class I airsheds

    • No recent, relevant air quality analysis and low likelihood of AQ modeling being conducted in the future

  • EPA Region 8 recommended air quality modeling be conducted to provide the decision-maker with the level of information necessary to support the decision-making process.


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Example of How EPA Region 8 Has Applied These Factors

  • Kemmerer Resource Management Plan Draft EIS

    • BLM concurrently completing AQ modeling for the Moxa Arch Draft EIS.

    • Moxa Arch included approximately 90% of the anticipated oil and gas development in the Kemmerer planning area.

  • EPA Region 8 did not recommend additional air quality modeling for the RMP because of the concurrent AQ modeling being conducted for Moxa Arch. EPA Region 8 recommended the mitigation measures identified and supported by the Moxa Arch air quality modeling be more broadly considered for implementation across the planning area in the RMP.


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Mitigation

  • As we’ve stated in scoping comment letters:

    • If an air quality analysis discloses significant adverse impacts to air quality, the NEPA document should consider and analyze mitigation to address the impacts.

    • Here are examples of some of these measures:

      • Tier II or greater drilling rigs

      • Centralized gathering facilities

      • Green completions

    • New measures are evolving.


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Checklist for AQ Analysis in Oil and Gas Activities Under NEPA

  • The Checklist covers key issues for EPA in conducting AQ Analyses under NEPA

    • Air Quality Workgroup and Modeling Protocol

    • AQ Analysis in Planning-Level NEPA Documents

    • AQ Analysis in Project-Level NEPA Documents

    • AQ Modeling and Approaches to Analysis

      • Not included in presentation, but in Checklist

      • Technical modeling and analysis approaches

    • Analysis of Air Quality Related Values (i.e. visibility)

      • Not included in presentation, but in Checklist

      • Includes calculation methodologies and presentation of results

    • Mitigation


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EPA Region 8 Contacts

  • For further information, questions, comments etc., please call:

    • Larry Svoboda, Director, EPA Region 8 NEPA Program, 303-312-6004

    • Joyel Dhieux, EPA Region 8 NEPA Reviewer, 303-312-6647

    • Ken Distler, EPA Region 8 Air Quality NEPA Lead, 303-312-6043

    • Kevin Golden, EPA National Modeling Expert, 303-312-6442


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