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NEPA Compliance: Air Quality Resource Management. Resource Advisory Councils Conference Grand Junction, Colorado February 25, 2009. Topics. BLM’s management of air resources Addressing air analysis in NEPA Status of Field Office air analyses for RMPs Air pollutant emission controls

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nepa compliance air quality resource management

NEPA Compliance:Air Quality Resource Management

Resource Advisory Councils Conference

Grand Junction, Colorado

February 25, 2009

  • BLM’s management of air resources
  • Addressing air analysis in NEPA
  • Status of Field Office air analyses for RMPs
  • Air pollutant emission controls
  • Regional assessments
air resource management
Air Resource Management
  • Air quality manual
    • Manual sets forth the authority, policy, objectives, program structure
    • BLM must analyze the potential effects of BLM-authorized activities on air quality as part of the planning, environmental review, and decision making processes
    • Air quality is determined by atmospheric emissions and pollutants, and includes noise, smoke management, and visibility
  • Associated guidance
    • Specific guidance on when and how to conduct air quality analyses within RMPs and EISs
    • Guidance on emission calculations, air models, monitoring, BMPs, and example applications
    • Focuses on the question of whether proposed activities are reasonably foreseeable
air resource management1
Air Resource Management
  • Air quality manual
    • Inventory, model, analyze, and monitor air resources in order to evaluate conditions and trends
    • Evaluate and recommend appropriate emission control and mitigation measures to ensure compliance with appropriate Federal, State, Tribal, and local air quality standards
    • BLM has an “affirmative responsibility to protect the air quality and related values (including visibility)” (Section 165 (d)(2) of Clean Air Act)
    • BLM will consider the potential effects of BLM projects, programs, activities, and BLM-authorized activities on air quality at both the planning and the project level
air resource management2
Air Resource Management
  • Air quality manual
    • Ensure an appropriate level of information and analysis is incorporated into applicable RMPs, NEPA documents, use authorizations, and BLM permits.
    • Assure appropriate stipulations and conditions of approval are included to ensure air pollution emission control, protection methods, and ambient air quality levels are addressed
    • Cooperate with regulatory entities in evaluating impacts to air quality, and determining potential influence on existing and future BLM activities
air resource management3
Air Resource Management
  • Adverse Impacts (or thresholds)
    • Air Quality
      • National and State Ambient Air Quality Standards
      • Prevention of Significant Deterioration Increments
      • Particular case of ozone
    • Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs for Class I areas)
      • Visibility (light extinction) - 1.0 or 0.5 deciviews
      • Nitrogen and Sulfur Deposition – 5 and 3 kg/ha/yr for N and S, respectively
        • NPS has proposed 0.005 kg/ha/yr for each
      • Lake Acidification – 10% change in acid neutralizing capacity (ANC)
    • Hazardous Air Pollutants
      • Acceptable ambient concentration levels (AACLs)
air quality challenges
Air Quality Challenges
  • Size of Projects, Density of Development, Long Term Pad Drilling, Number of Projects
    • Projects are Now 1,000’s of Wells Rather than 100’s
    • Density of development coupled with long term pad drilling has “near field” NAAQS implications
  • Analysis expectations
  • Ozone
  • Visibility
  • Other AQRV’s
air quality challenges new ozone standard
Air Quality Challenges - New Ozone Standard
  • EPA promulgated new NAAQS to 0.075 ppm (75 ppb)
  • Rural Western “High Background” is close to standard
  • “Winter Ozone” issues observed in other parts of the region
  • Several areas will probably become either non-attainment areas or “transport” areas.
  • It is unclear how to do a major project EIS in a non-attainment or transport areas
  • It is unclear if BLM can or will issue a ROD with predicted design value exceedences
  • It is clear that more appeals will be filed
Air Quality Challenges - New Ozone Standard
  • Implications for BLM planning activities
    • Impacts for plans using photochemical grid modeling will be assessed against a tighter threshold
    • Greater scrutiny of emissions from oil and gas development
    • If new nonattainment areas overlap with oil and gas development, our activities would have to conform with the state air quality plans through General Conformity under Clean Air Act
    • Need to be proactive to ensure that all RFD is included in the state plan due 2013
analysis procedure
Analysis Procedure
  • Photo Chemical Grid Models Likely to be New Standard
    • Complex, Expensive, Lengthy, Limited Contractor Availability
    • Better “State of Science” Results
    • Yields Much More and Better Information for Decisions
  • Inventories Historically a Problem
    • Most Analyses Relied on WRAP Inventory (Does not have VOC’s)
    • More Complete, Accurate, and Speciated Inventories Will be Required
    • IPAMS Wrap Phase III Will Help
    • Keeping Inventories Updated Will be Challenge for Both Industry and Agencies
status of air quality for rmps
Status of Air Quality for RMPs
  • BLM began using air quality models to disclose impacts from RMPs a few years ago
  • Methods and models used for air quality models have evolved due to:
    • A need to better quantify cumulative impacts
    • A need to address ozone impacts
    • Greater scrutiny of analysis techniques
  • Unlike air quality modeling conducted for large stationary point source permitting, methods for spatially distributed small sources within NEPA are not well established
  • New direction is to use models capable of large-scale regional assessments in areas with dense oil and gas development
status of air quality for rmps1
Status of Air Quality for RMPs
  • Different AQ models used to support RMPs in Colorado
  • Adverse impacts have varied too
  • See table on subsequent slide that provides
    • Model(s) used in the analysis
    • Adverse air quality impacts
    • EPA NEPA rating
status of air quality for rmps2
Status of Air Quality for RMPs
  • Various air quality models used to support RMPs
    • AERMOD (a “plume” model”)
      • Used for near-field impacts up to <50 km
      • Limited chemistry for particulates, not capable of simulating ozone
      • Assumed to give most conservative results
      • $15 -$75k and weeks to a few months to run
    • CALPUFF (a “puff” model)
      • Used for far-field analysis up to 300 km
      • Limited chemistry for particulates, not capable of simulating ozone
      • $100 - $300k and 2-6 months to run
    • CAMx or CMAQ (photochemical grid models)
      • Used for regional impacts from a multitude of sources up to continental scale with gridded, nested “domains”
      • Full chemistry, including ozone
      • Use massive meteorological and emissions data sets as inputs
      • $200k - $750k and 6 -18 months to run
      • Ultimate cumulative impacts tool
role of stakeholders
Role of Stakeholders
  • Federal Agency Partners expect involvement in:
    • Conduct of air quality analysis
    • Synthesis and interpretation of analytical results
    • Determination of significant impacts
    • Development of mitigation and control measures
  • Ongoing dialogue to determine appropriate analysis
    • State Office meets frequently with State, USFS, EPA
    • Federal Leadership Forum meets regularly
air emission controls
Air Emission Controls
  • As air quality impacts from both federal and non-federal development increase, BLM sees a need to adopt controls
  • Both CDPHE, COGCC and EPA have passed regulations that address a host of oil and gas sources:
    • Colorado Regulation 7
    • COGCC Regulations
    • New Source Emission Standards (NSPS) for stationary engines and turbines
    • NONROAD diesel engine emission standards
  • Will the existing emission control regulations be sufficient to mitigate regional impacts?
  • Is the adoption of strict emission controls more feasible than phasing or limiting development?
air emission controls cont
Air Emission Controls Cont.

Colorado Reg 7 Emission Standards (SIP and statewide)

  • Tanks standards: New and existing condensate tanks emitting 20 tons per year or more of VOCs required to control emissions by 95 percent commencing May 1, 2008
  • Engine Standards for new or relocated engines from out of state commencing July 1, 2007:

Source: CDPHE

  • Glycol Dehydrator controls: New and existing glycol dehydrators emitting more than 15 tons per year of VOCs are required to control emissions by 90 percent commencing May 1, 2008.
air emission controls cont1
Air Emission Controls Cont.
  • EPA has promulgated “Tier” NONROAD emission standards for diesel engines , including drill rigs
  • Emissions are progressively reduced until 2015 through Tier 1 – 4 emission standards
  • An associated diesel fuel standard will reduce the sulfur content for nonroad engines form 500 ppm to 15 ppm
  • The nonroad engines emission standards address several pollutants, but primarily NOx (see next slide)
air emission controls cont2
Air Emission Controls Cont.
  • So why would BLM implement further control measures?
    • State and federal regulations may not be sufficient to avoid unacceptable impacts
    • Not all air emission source categories are addressed by state and federal regulations (fugitive dust, venting emissions, methane, etc..)
    • Some emission standards will not be implemented until future year (e.g., Tier 4 nonroad standards in 2014)
  • What is BLM’s obligation?
air emission controls cont3
Air Emission Controls Cont.
  • Does BLM have authority to require stricter emission standards?
    • A question of law, not BLM air quality policy
    • In practice, this has been addressed on an ad-hoc basis in coordination with state DEQs
    • Likely not an easy answer as due to
      • Regulatory framework for source type (mobile vs. stationary vs. area)
      • EPA delegation of authority to state and the state’s preference
      • Legal precedents (case law)
      • Example: Green completions
    • Generally, yes, as various sections of FLMPA and the Clean Air Act direct BLM to protect air quality
mitigation measures under nepa
Mitigation Measures under NEPA
  • Actions that can reduce, avoid, minimize, rectify, or compensate adverse impacts
  • Required mitigation measures must be described in the decision document
  • Monitoring is required to ensure the implementation of mitigation measures
  • For an EIS – all relevant and reasonable measures are to be identified (even if outside the agency’s jurisdiction)
  • For an EA – mitigation should be used and required to reduce the impacts below significance
management strategies
Management Strategies
  • Plan Projects for “Low Emissions”
    • Condensate and water collection rather than tanks and trucks
    • Controls on start-up
    • Contract low emission rigs when turn-over occurs
    • Use low or ultra-low sulfur diesel
    • Use low bleed pneumatics, solar for chemical and methanol pumps
    • Avoid pneumatic pumps (gas) if possible
    • Avoid well venting for completion, unloading or blowdown
    • Automation
    • In a regional sense electrification is not a silver bullet
management strategies1
Management Strategies
  • Be Prepared to Make Emission Mitigation Commitments
    • It is Better to Plan These for the Most Cost Effective and Largest Effects
    • In Jonah, EPA Threatened Unsatisfactory Rating if Engines Not Restricted to 1gr/hp-hr. BLM Agreed
  • Ozone Issues May Require Controls of Existing Equipment
    • Formal Off-sets in Non-attainment Areas
    • Model Predicted Impact Reduction Where Analysis Shows Design Value Exceedence
  • Goal is to Demonstrate No or Very Deminimis Impact
regional assessment
Regional Assessment
  • Air quality analyses are currently being conducted on a plan-by-plan or project-by-project basis
  • Air quality impacts from wide-spread oil and gas development are inherently well suited to be assessed with photochemical grid models
  • Advantages include:
    • Cost efficiencies
    • Consistencies in data, methods, and projected results
  • Disadvantages include:
    • Not well suited for assessing near-field impacts
    • Predicted impacts from an individual plan
  • Several existing air quality studies could be leveraged, including:
    • Uinta Basin / IPAMS modeling
    • White River CAMx modeling
    • Four Corners Air Quality Taskforce
  • CDPHE, EPA, and USFS have indicated support for this approach