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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management "Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region" Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25600.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management "Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region" Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25600.
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Page 10
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management "Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region" Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25600.
×
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management "Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region" Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25600.
×
Page 12

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Chapter 1: Introduction Emissions from oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities in the outer continental shelf (OCS) of the Gulf of Mexico Region (GOMR) can contribute to a range of impacts in the region, including increased levels of criteria air pollutants (e.g., ozone and particulate matter [PM2.5 and PM10]), acid deposition, and decreased visibility. This is of direct importance to public health and welfare as there are areas around the Gulf that are in non- attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS; e.g., the Houston area for ozone) and the presence of both Class I and Class II areas. Class I areas are given special air quality and visibility protection by the Clean Air Act (CAA). These areas include national parks larger than 6,000 acres and national wilderness areas larger than 5,000 acres that were in existence when the CAA was amended in 1977. All other areas have somewhat less stringent protection from air quality deterioration and are designated as Class II. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is required to comply with the CAA, including the NAAQS, set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment, to the extent that oil and gas exploration, development, and production sources in the OCS significantly affect the air quality of any state. BOEM meets these requirements by conducting dispersion and photochemical modeling, and using the results to estimate the individual and cumulative impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities. If these offshore oil and gas activities significantly affect air quality of any state or Class I/II national park and wilderness areas, the OCS facility is subject to regulations and emissions controls to ensure compliance with the CAA and the NAAQS. BOEM’s air quality analyses for the GOMR have not been updated in decades. The last cumulative impacts modeling assessment, Gulf of Mexico Air Quality Study, was completed in 1995 (Systems Applications International et al., 1995). Likewise, BOEM’s current emission exemption thresholds (EETs), which screen for whether a proposed source can be expected to cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS, were developed in the 1980s and the NAAQS has undergone several revisions since that time. To update BOEM’s impact assessments and to ensure compliance with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and National Environmental Policy Act, BOEM asked a team of contractors in 2014 to conduct the Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region Study (the “Study”). The analysis includes developing input datasets—such as emissions estimates for all sources, meteorology, and pre-existing pollutant concentrations—and conducting dispersion and photochemical modeling of how OCS oil and gas activities may affect nearby states (see Table 1.1). Because the Study will likely lead to regulatory changes, BOEM determined that the Study may be “highly influential” and asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) to provide an independent technical review of the Study. The National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) appointed an ad hoc committee to conduct this review. The committee’s statement of task states that the committee should provide an overall critique of the study and address the following questions: 9

10 REVIEW OF THE BOEM “AIR QUALITY MODELING IN THE GOMR” STUDY 1. Does the study meet its stated goals? 2. Does the study accurately reflect the scientific literature? Are there any critical content areas missing from the study? 3. Are the data inputs to modeling analyses reasonable, well documented and adequately supported by existing literature? 4. Are the approaches to quantitative modeling reasonable and adequately supported by existing literature? 5. Are the findings documented in a consistent, transparent, and credible way? 6. Is the study consistent with guidelines in Appendix W of 40 CFR part 51 (EPA)? The Study was previously reviewed by three experts in a “Science Review Group” and was also reviewed by several EPA and Gulf state personnel. Following those reviews, the Study was revised and published in September 2019.7 The issues raised in this review will be considered for Table 1.1 Mapping of Study Objectives to Study Sections Specific Objectives of the “Air Quality Modeling in the GOM Study” Where Addressed in the Study A. To evaluate current Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model Chapter 2 and datasets for the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and, if necessary, develop a Appendix B-1 new GOM 5-year meteorological WRF dataset that is sufficient to serve as input for air quality models. B. To perform a 40 CFR Part 51 Appendix W Section 3.2.2 “Equivalency Chapter 5 and Demonstration” for modeling purposes (i.e., AERMOD-Coupled Appendix E-1 Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment) for the GOM. C. To examine through use of dispersion and photochemical air quality Chapter 5 and modeling if the current existing exemption levels are protective of the Appendices E-2 to E-7 annual and short-term NAAQS onshore. D. To develop new exemption level thresholds, if necessary, using Chapter 5 and modeling and statistical methods if the existing exemption level Appendix E-8 thresholds are not protective of all NAAQS. E. To assess air quality cumulative impacts to any state from offshore Chapters 3 and 4, OCS activities, including assessing Multi-Sale 2017-2022 Scenario Appendices C-1, C-2 impacts, using photochemical air quality modeling. and D-1 F. To conduct visibility impact analysis for the GOM Class I areas: Chapter 4 Breton Wilderness, Saint Marks Wilderness, Chassahowitzka Wilderness, and Bradwell Bay. NOTE: BOEM provided the committee with the Study objectives, which are not clearly identified in the Study. 7 See https://espis.boem.gov/final%20reports/BOEM_2019-057.PDF.

INTRODUCTION 11 a separate, future update to the Study. A previous version of the Study was contained in an Environmental Impact Statement, which was open to public comment.8 To address its charge, committee members read the full Study and held one in-person meeting on July 16-18, 2019, in Washington, DC. This meeting included an open session to speak with a BOEM representative and the Study authors to ask clarifying questions. The committee also heard from experts from the oil and gas industry to provide more context on OCS emissions, and from the EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards to provide an overview of air quality modeling requirements. Furthermore, the committee held one webinar on August 13. In closed sessions, the committee members discussed the Study and prepared their report. This report’s Chapter 2 provides the committee’s review of the Study and includes both an overall assessment as well as feedback specific to the individual chapters. Subsequent sections also assess how well the Study meets its objectives and provide recommendations for improvements to the Study. The committee is mindful that some of the recommendations would require a significant amount of work, and therefore, may be better suited for future BOEM air quality modeling studies. Minor comments and editorial suggestions were not a significant focus for the committee. 8 See https://www.boem.gov/BOEM-2017-013/.

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Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management "Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region" Study Get This Book
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Emissions associated with oil and gas exploration, development, and production on the Gulf waters can result in increased levels of air pollutants that contribute to a range of air quality impacts in the Gulf of Mexico Region (GOMR). “Criteria air pollutants”, such as carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide, are considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) manages the U.S. outer continental shelf oil and gas resources and is required to help manage air quality in the GOMR.

Review of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region” Study reviews and provides feedback on the BOEM’s Air Quality Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico Region Study. This independent technical review of the study explores whether the study meets its goals, accurately reflects the scientific literature, uses reasonable data and modeling analyses, approaches quantitative modeling appropriately, documents findings in a consistent, transparent, and credible way, and aligns with necessary guidelines.

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