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Ohio EPA Drafting General Permit for Shale Production

In an effort to ensure that air around Marcellus and Utica shale production sites is safe and to provide the shale industry "with the most efficient option to get operations up and running," the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) said it is creating a new general permit.

"A general permit for shale gas production will streamline the process, giving producers the tools they need to comply with Ohio's air pollution regulations," said Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally.

The general permit will create consistent standards for shale gas sites, allowing most applicants to apply for and receive a permit in as little as two weeks, according to Ohio EPA, which currently offers 47 general permits for a variety of business sectors.

Ohio EPA issues both individual permits, which are specific to a facility, and general permits, which cover all facilities with similar emissions meeting the same eligibility criteria. Public comments on the conditions of a general permit are considered when the general permit is created or reviewed, rather than for each project. Statewide general permits are reviewed and revised every five years.

The draft general permit for shale production includes emission limits, operating restrictions and monitoring, testing and reporting requirements. Ohio EPA said the general permit will cover emissions sources found at most shale gas production sites including internal combustion engines, dehydration systems, truck-loading racks, storage tanks, flares and unpaved roadways. The permit will not cover activities that occur during drilling and fracturing, because the resulting air emissions are considered temporary and exempt from air pollution permit regulations, according to the agency.

The general permit is expected to be finalized this fall; a required 30-day public comment period has yet to be scheduled. The draft general permit and qualifying criteria are available at www.epa.state.oh.us.

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