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Tag: air emission

DEP Suspends Enforcement of Initial Annual Reports for Oil and Gas Operators in PA

In a recent announcement in the Pennsylvania Bulletin posted on January 27, 2024, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) declared the suspension of enforcement for the initial annual reports under 25 Pa. Code §§ 129.130(k)(1) and 129.140(k)(1), which pertain to recordkeeping and reporting for conventional and unconventional oil and natural gas sources.

The initial annual report submissions for owners and operators of conventional oil and natural gas sources, due on December 2, 2023, covered the time period from December 2, 2022, through December 31, 2022. Similarly, for owners and operators of unconventional oil and natural gas sources, the deadline was December 10, 2023, addressing the time period from December 10, 2022, through December 31, 2022.

DEP has decided to suspend enforcement of the initial annual report submissions until June 1, 2024, the deadline for the second report, which will encompass the entire 2023 calendar year.

It is crucial for oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania to note that while the Department is exercising enforcement discretion, this does not exempt them from the potential of legal challenges by third parties under 25 Pa. Code §§ 129.130(k)(1) and 129.140(k)(1). DEP aims to provide flexibility to operators during this period, but compliance with regulations remains important.

This notice is intended to be a helpful outreach to small oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania, facilitating awareness and understanding of the adjusted reporting timelines. Operators are encouraged to stay informed and prepared for the upcoming reporting obligations and are advised to check DEP’s official resources or EMAP’s Oil & Gas page for any further updates or changes.

EPA Proposes Ban on TCE: How it May Affect Small Businesses

In a significant move aimed at safeguarding public health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a ban on the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical solvent with known serious health risks, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). While this proposal has wide-reaching implications, it particularly resonates with the small business community, given the various industries that use TCE in their operations.

Where TCE is Often Used:

Small businesses may use TCE in cleaning and degreasing (including spot cleaning, vapor degreasing, cold cleaning, and aerosol degreasing) substances, and if they manufacture refrigerants or use refrigerants. TCE is also used in paint and coat manufacturing, plastics material manufacturing, wood window and door manufacturing, pharmaceutical preparation, and printing machinery. Additionally, TCE is also found in consumer products such as typewriter correction fluids, paint removers, paint strippers, adhesives, spot removers, cleaning fluids for rugs, and metal cleaners.

The proposed ban on trichloroethylene (TCE), while primarily aimed at protecting public health and the environment, will have several potential effects on small businesses.

Transition to Safer Alternatives:

Small businesses that currently use TCE in their products or processes will need to transition to safer alternatives. While this transition may involve some initial costs, it is likely to lead to long-term benefits, as safer alternatives are generally associated with lower health and environmental risks. Small businesses should consider exploring these alternatives and assess their feasibility in their operations.

Compliance Costs:

Small businesses will need to ensure compliance with the proposed rule, which may require changes in their manufacturing processes, product formulations, or supply chains. These adjustments may come with associated costs, including investing in new equipment or materials, revising safety protocols, and retraining employees.

Worker Protections:

The proposed rule includes stringent worker protections for limited remaining commercial and industrial uses of TCE. Small businesses will need to invest in safety measures to protect their employees from potential TCE exposure. This may involve additional training, personal protective equipment, and equipment upgrades.

Phased Transition for Some Uses:

The proposal acknowledges that for certain limited uses of TCE, there will be a longer transition period. Thus, small businesses may have more time to adapt to alternative chemicals or processes. However, they will still need to comply with the worker protections outlined in the proposal.

Reduced Legal and Financial Risks:

By proactively adopting the ban and transitioning to safer alternatives, small businesses can reduce the risk of legal and financial liabilities associated with TCE exposure. This can protect them from potential lawsuits, fines, and reputational damage.

Environmental and Health Benefits:

The proposed ban aims to reduce the adverse health effects and environmental contamination caused by TCE. Small businesses located in areas with historical TCE contamination can benefit from a cleaner and healthier environment, potentially improving the quality of life for their employees and the surrounding community.

Awareness of Health Risks:

The proposed ban raises awareness about the health risks associated with TCE, which can benefit small businesses by encouraging them to prioritize the safety of their employees and customers. Implementing safer practices can enhance the reputation of a business and improve relationships with stakeholders and the local community.

Public Comments and Engagement:

Small businesses have the opportunity to provide feedback during the public comment period, enabling them to express concerns or suggest adjustments to the proposed rule. This engagement can help shape the final regulations and ensure that the unique challenges faced by small businesses are considered.

Topics of interest to small businesses, in which EPA is requesting comments on as noted in the federal register notice, are the following:

  • EPA requests public comment on reasonable compliance timeframes for small businesses, specifically on whether and how to provide longer compliance timeframes for transitioning to alternatives for uses requiring reformulation and cleaning processes for cleaning parts for national defense or cleaning medical devices.
  • EPA requests public comment on differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that account for the resources available to small entities.
  • EPA requests public comment on the feasibility of use of alternatives to TCE and their availability for conditions of use that drive the unreasonable risk.
  • EPA requests public comment on how the rulemaking should consider TCE alternatives in light of ongoing regulatory scrutiny.
For those small businesses interested in voicing their opinions on this proposal, the EPA will accept public comments on or before November 30, 2023.

Update on Control of VOC Emissions from Gasoline Dispensing Facilities (Stage I & Stage II)

UPDATE: Effective on August 20, 2022, Pennsylvania DEP is suspending the enforcement of a specific monitoring requirement – the inspection of the gasoline storage tank automatic tank gauge (ATG) cap.  The reason for the suspension is that after a review of the rule’s requirements it was determined that the likelihood of the ATG being compromised is very low and the verification of the ATG status after every gasoline truck delivery can be problematic and difficult to access.  Please note that the suspension of this specific monitoring requirement does not affect owners or operators of gasoline dispensing facilities relief from other Stage I & Stage II requirements.  Additional information can found in the August 20, 2022 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin which can be found here.

About the Stage I & Stage II Rulemaking

The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board finalized a final-form rulemaking that amends air quality regulations related to the control of VOC emissions at gasoline dispensing facilities. The rulemaking went into effect on March 26th, 2022 and targets Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions during the following situations:
  • Loading of underground gasoline storage tanks (or Stage I vapor recovery)
  • Filling of motor vehicles at the pump (or Stage II vapor recovery)
  • During and after decommissioning of Stage II vapor recovery equipment from gasoline dispensing pumps.
The final-form rulemaking also adds and amends definitions related to Stage I and Stage II vapor recovery systems. A copy of the final preamble and regulation can be accessed here.

What is Stage I Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage I” refers to a vapor recovery system that controls the emission of gasoline vapors into the atmosphere during the transfer of gas from a gasoline tank truck to a gasoline storage tank at a Gasoline Dispensing Facility (GDF). A properly operating Stage I vapor recovery system returns vapors to the gasoline tank truck.  The equipment and controls of a Stage I system also control the emission of gasoline vapors during the storage of gasoline vapors at a GDF.

What is Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems?

“Stage II” refers to the vapor recovery system that controls the emission of vapors during the transfer of gasoline from a gasoline storage tank at a GDF to a motor vehicle fuel tank.  A Stage II vapor recovery system also controls emissions into the the atmosphere of vapors during the storage of gasoline at a GDF. Stage II vapor recovery technology uses special refueling nozzles, dispensing hoses and a system that draws refueling vapors in the Underground Storage Tank (UST).  A properly operating Stage II system moves the gasoline vapors from the motor vehicle fuel tank druing the refueling of the vehicle into the UST at the GDF.

Who is Affected by This Rulemaking?

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finalized regulatory requirements for GDF owners and operators to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system in 12 counties in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas.  The compliance date for the decommissioning of Stage II systems is December 31, 2022.
  • The 12 Pennsylvania counties include: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington, and Westmoreland.
  • Owners and operators are those with gasoline throughputs that exceed at anytime >10,000 gallons per month (or 120,000 gallons per year) and independent small business marketers of gasoline that have a monthly throughput >50,000 gallons per month (or 600,000 gallons per year) in the above mentioned 12 Pennsylvania counties.
  • Persons performing decommissioning procedures, leak testing, and repairs at gasoline dispensing facilities.

What Happens After Decommissioning Takes Place?

For those entities that need to decommission their Stage II vapor recovery system by December 31, 2022, a notification form needs to be completed and submitted to the appropriate DEP regional office, Allegheny County Health Department, or Philadelphia Air Management Services.

Where Can I Learn More about this Rulemaking?

Pennsylvania DEP has put together a Frequently Asked Questions on their website for Decommissioning Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems at Gasoline Dispensing Facilities. In addition, Pennsylvania small businesses can always contact EMAP for further information and assistance if this rulemaking may affect your small business operation.  Simply call EMAP’s toll-free environmental hotline at (877) ASK-EMAP or email us at questions@askemap.org.

Proposed Rulemaking for Dry Cleaning Facilities

EPA has proposed amendments to the National Perchloroethylene Air Emission Standards for Dry Cleaning Facilities. This proposal would add provisions which would require all dry-to-dry machines at new and existing facilities to have both refrigerated condensers and carbon adsorbers as secondary controls.
The request for comment period is currently open.  EPA seeks comments and information regarding the number of third generation and earlier model dry cleaning machines that potentially could still be in operation.  In addition, EPA seeks information on dry cleaning practices, processes, and control technologies that could reduce emissions from hazardous air pollutions, or HAPs, for fourth generation (or better) dry cleaning machines.
A copy of the rule summary, the new proposed rule, and fact sheets can be found here.
General speaking, most dry cleaning facilities and operations are small businesses.  Estimates from EPA report that there are approximately 10,000 to 15,000 perchloroethylene dry cleaning facilities in the United States.  Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is estimated that 10-15% of perc dry cleaners have closed.
Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.