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Corpus Christi, TX, United States

Ethridge S.,MC 168 | Bredfeldt T.,MC 168 | Sheedy K.,MC 122 | Shirley S.,MC 168 | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources | Year: 2015

There is a nationwide trend to develop shale formations due to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology. The Barnett Shale in north Texas is one of the largest onshore natural gas fields in the US, and has experienced exponential growth since the 1990's. This immense amount of well development and gas production has occurred near heavily populated, urban areas, leading to increased public concern regarding the impacts of these activities on human health and welfare. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is charged with regulating sources of air emissions from natural gas operations (NGOs) and is in a unique position to evaluate any associated risks. The goal of this manuscript is to describe the problem formulation process used by the TCEQ to characterize risks associated with air emissions from NGOs, and the subsequent risk management strategies implemented. Details on how potential sources of risk to human health were identified and quantified are provided. Initial assessments identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as chemicals of concern. Over 4.7 million data points for VOCs were used in this assessment on both a short-term and long-term basis. Only three short-term samples measured VOCs above short-term health-based air monitoring comparison values (AMCVs). Several short-term samples measured VOCs above odor-based AMCVs. Long-term VOC levels were below long-term health-based AMCVs. We describe efforts to engage stakeholders early in the risk assessment process and outreach programs used. Finally, details on new rules and regulations that are being used to more efficiently manage risks are provided. Given the resources and experience TCEQ possesses to evaluate environmental impacts that may be caused by shale gas development and production, it is our hope that this manuscript may serve as a resource to others to identify and manage risks associated with oil and gas activities in their area. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Capobianco T.,MC 168 | Hildebrand S.M.,MC 168 | Honeycutt M.,MC 168 | Lee J.-S.,MC 168 | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2013

The Federal Clean Air Act (FCAA) framework envisions a federal-state partnership whereby the development of regulations may be at the federal level or state level with federal oversight. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes National Ambient Air Quality Standards to describe "safe" ambient levels of criteria pollutants. For air toxics, the EPA establishes control technology standards for the 187 listed hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) but does not establish ambient standards for HAPs or other air toxics. Thus, states must ensure that ambient concentrations are not at harmful levels. The Texas Clean Air Act authorizes the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas state environmental agency, to control air pollution and protect public health and welfare. The TCEQ employs three interactive programs to ensure that concentrations of air toxics do not exceed levels of potential health concern (LOCs): air permitting, ambient air monitoring, and the Air Pollutant Watch List (APWL). Comprehensive air permit reviews involve the application of best available control technology for new and modified equipment and ensure that permits protect public health and welfare. Protectiveness may be demonstrated by a number of means, including a demonstration that the predicted ground-level concentrations for the permitted emissions, evaluated on a case-by-case and chemical-by-chemical basis, do not cause or contribute to a LOC. The TCEQ's ambient air monitoring program is extensive and provides data to help assess the potential for adverse effects from all operational equipment in an area. If air toxics are persistently monitored at a LOC, an APWL area is established. The purpose of the APWL is to reduce ambient air toxic concentrations below LOCs by focusing TCEQ resources and heightening awareness. This paper will discuss examples of decreases in air toxic levels in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, resulting from the interactive nature of these programs. Copyright © 2013 A&WMA. Source

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