The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) on Wednesday issued a final general air quality permit designed to cover production operations at natural gas wells in the state’s portion of the Marcellus and Utica shales.

“We wanted to come up with a permitting mechanism that could ensure that those emission sources are protective of human health and the environment, yet not throw big obstacles in the way of industry,” OEPA spokesman Mike Settles told NGI on Friday. “It’s geared specifically to this industry and type of operation. If the drilling companies, once they go into production, feel that they can meet the qualifying criteria that we’ve laid out, they can go through this general permitting process and get approval within a matter of weeks, two, three or four weeks.”

That criteria includes restricting the potential annual emission of several air pollutants, specifically 20.32 tons per year (TPY) of particulate emissions, 6.2 TPY of sulfur dioxide (SO2), 37.4 TPY of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 91.6 TPY of carbon monoxide (CO), and 81.55 TPY of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Flaring operations are also restricted — 3.0 TPY of NOx, 2.8 TPY of VOC, 1.8 TPY of SO2, and 16.2 TPY of CO during a rolling 12-month period — but total flaring capacity is increased and emergency flaring is permissible. Operators will be allowed two glycol dehydration units (up from the previous limit of one), and unpaved roads and natural gas microturbines (of less than 200 kW) are no longer classified as emissions units.

Operators will also be able to have their permit approval expedited if:

OEPA announced plans to create a general air quality permit for Marcellus and Utica shale gas wells last summer. The agency issued a draft version of the permit on Oct. 20 and accepted public comments on the matter through Nov. 28.

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