For over a decade, ERG has supported the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) (formerly the Minerals Management Service) in characterizing and analyzing air emissions associated with offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production sources in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. ERG quantifies oil and gas production platform air pollutant emissions using operator-supplied data via the Gulfwide Offshore Activities Data System (GOADS) software. Air pollutant emission estimates are developed using these data and emission estimation algorithms within the Gulfwide Oracle Database Management System (DBMS). ERG also quantifies emission estimates for other sources potentially impacting air quality in the Gulf of Mexico. These include oil and gas production support vessels, drilling rigs, and helicopters, as well as commercial marine vessels and fishing vessels. ERG estimates air pollutant emissions for these sources using geographic information system (GIS) and satellite tracking data. The resulting emission inventories serve as input data in air dispersion models to assess the onshore air quality impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production operations.
ERG supported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and local air quality agencies in evaluating air pollutant concentrations for a list of priority schools located throughout the country. The schools were located in both urban and rural settings, in areas of high industrial activity, and in areas dominated by mobile source activities. To assess the impacts of nearby air pollutant sources, ERG conducted ambient monitoring of numerous hazardous air pollutants, as well as statistical and geographic information system (GIS) analyses of the air pollutant concentrations found, nearby sources of air pollutant emissions, and meteorological measurements. School-specific technical reports and webpage summaries can be found at http://www.epa.gov/schoolair/.
The city of Fort Worth is home to extensive natural gas exploration and production, as it lies on top of the Barnett Shale, a highly productive natural gas shale formation in north-central Texas. The city contracted ERG to conduct an extensive study to characterize air pollutant emissions and impacts to address citizen concerns regarding nearby natural gas exploration and production activities. This study was composed of four main activities: 1) ambient air quality monitoring to measure air pollution levels downwind from natural gas well pads and compressor stations; 2) point source testing at well pads and compressor stations to measure emissions from tanks, separators, and other process equipment; 3) air dispersion modeling to simulate downwind impacts from these activities; and 4) a public health evaluation that integrated the study’s ambient air monitoring, point source testing, and dispersion modeling results to assess the public health implications for those living near these sites.
WebFIRE (Factor Information Retrieval System) is EPA’s online air pollutant emission factors repository, retrieval, and development tool. The WebFIRE database contains emission factors for criteria and hazardous air pollutants released from industrial and non-industrial processes. ERG is playing a pivotal role to support EPA in its efforts to modernize WebFIRE, expanding its functionality to accommodate a transition towards an interactive, less subjective emission factor development program, and electronic reporting of environmental information. Recently, ERG implemented programming changes that allow WebFIRE to accept test data values and supporting documentation (e.g., test reports) that facilities submit using EPA’s Electronic Reporting Tool (ERT) and the Central Data Exchange (CDX). These enhanced features allow WebFIRE users to search for and download ERT files. They also allow users to register for email notifications when ERT files are submitted from facilities within a geographic area or a process of interest. Future enhancements to WebFIRE will allow users to create emission factors using the individual test data values contained in WebFIRE and EPA’s emission factor development tools (e.g., procedures for handling data that are below the method detection limit, identifying outliers, and quantifying and characterizing the quality of emission factors).