Air Pollution Fines from Natural Gas Processing @ $9 Million Dollars

by S. Tom Bond on April 23, 2023

(Click to expand image) ~ Meet the Author ~ Michael Barrick to present book entitled ‘Fractured Sanctuary’

Regional natural gas companies agree to more than $9 million in air quality fines
From an Article by Logan Smith, Newsbreak, CBS Denver, April 22, 2023
Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday settlements with three natural gas processing companies for their alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

The settlements total $9.25 million that will be shared among the federal agency, six states (Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming), and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. This includes $346,500 for Williams Companies facilities in Marshall County, WV.

The agreements also require improvements to be made by the companies at 25 gas processing plants and 91 compressor stations across 12 states and two Tribal communities.

The settlement with one company is notable for its plants’ proximity to the Denver metro area. WES DJ Gathering LLC, formerly known as Kerr McGee Gathering, LLC, operates three adjacent processing plants comprising the Fort Lupton Complex located 35 northeast of Denver.

To resolve the allegations of state and federal clean air requirements at those facilities, WES DJ Gathering is paying the state and the EPA $1.75 million each.

“The area where the Fort Lupton Complex is located does not meet EPA’s 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone and is designated as ‘severe’ nonattainment,” the EPA stated in its press release.

Ground-level ozone has adverse affects on human health, according to the EPA. Methane, one of the primary components of natural gas, “substantially” contributes to greenhouse gases and climate change, the agency claims.

The EPA and the Colorado Department Public Health and Environment filed a complaint about the Fort Lupton Complex violations on July 1, 2020. As part of the settlement, WES DJ Gathering agreed to replace older equipment with low-emission valves and connectors; repair leaking equipment; implement a leak detection and repair quality control program; use newer gas imaging technology to improve monitoring and detection of leaks; and improve equipment at a nearby Frederick Compressor Station, including the removal or replacement of two pre-1981 engines.

“When fully implemented,” the EPA’s press release claimed, “the settlement will reduce ozone-producing air pollution in northern Colorado by an estimated 162 tons per year and greenhouse gases by 17,433 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), including methane.”

A second settlement agreement was made with Williams and Harvest Four Corners (The Williams Companies, Inc.), the EPA announced Thursday. Williams is required to pay $3.75 million civil penalty due to alleged failures to control volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from natural gas processing plants. The penalty will be divided between the EPA ($2,227,500), the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in southwestern Colorado ($307,500) and the states of Colorado ($298,875) and Wyoming ($142,500).

Williams is also required to strengthen its leak detection and repair (LDAR) practices at 15 natural gas processing plants, including those near Parachute, Rifle and Ignacio, Colorado, and Wamsutter and Opal, Wyoming. Williams must also perform leak monitoring and repair at 80 natural gas compressor stations across the U.S., including 10 throughout Wyoming.

A third settlement agreement was announced with MPLX LP addressing noncompliance and strengthening air pollution controls at seven natural gas processing plants and three compressor stations in North Dakota, Wyoming, and the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah.

The consent decrees for the WES DJ, Williams, and MPLX settlements are available at U.S. Department of Justice websites. The public has 30 days to comment.

Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970. Major revisions were made to it in 1977 and 1990.


See Also: Book ‘Fractured Sanctuary,’ about the Grassroots Response to the Fracking Industry, Now AvailableThe Appalachian Chronicle

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