West Virginia Dismisses Challenge to Marcellus Oil and Gas Development Clean Air Act Permits

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On Thursday, May 19, 2011, the West Virginia Air Quality Board granted a directed verdict to Appalachia Midstream Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, dismissing an appeal challenging its Clean Air Act permits for its development in northern West Virginia. The verdict sends a positive signal to the oil and gas industry in the United States.

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), a Pittsburgh-based environmental organization, attempted to argue that Chesapeake Energy should have obtained a major source New Source Review (NSR) permit before it started development in the Marcellus region of West Virginia, arguing that Chesapeake should have treated its two compressor stations and the wells that feed gas to the compressor stations as one industrial source. If GASP had been successful, aggregating all of the individual sources may have triggered the permitting thresholds for NSR permits that commonly thwart or delay industrial development in the United States. The West Virginia Air Quality Board found that the oil and gas field at issue did not fit the common sense notion of the plant and upheld the permitting decision made by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to not aggregate the different emission sources.

Aggregation of emitting activities for permitting purposes is only appropriate for activities that...

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