BOEM Funds Study to Improve EPA Air Quality Model for Overwater Applications

Sub title
Efforts will result in more accurate air quality modeling for offshore activities in the Gulf of Mexico.
Release Date
Image showing platform downwash – the effect that wind flowing over, around, or through an offshore platform has on plumes released from stacks on the platform.

The National Environmental Policy Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act require BOEM to conduct air quality impact assessments of offshore oil and natural gas sources in the Gulf of Mexico. Working under an interagency agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), BOEM recently funded an effort to update and improve platform downwash coding for the American Meteorological Society/Environmental Protection Agency Regulatory Model (AERMOD), a dispersion modeling system that uses meteorological data, including wind speed and direction, temperature and turbulence, plus emissions data, to predict air quality impacts.

The previous offshore air quality modeling system was dated (OCD), so BOEM entered into an IAA with EPA to improve the onshore air quality modeling system for overwater usage (AERMOD). Updating the program’s platform downwash algorithm will result in more accurate modeling, improving BOEM’s offshore activity impact assessments and better informing the bureau’s policy decisions regarding air quality impacts.

Through this collaboration, BOEM and EPA are leveraging resources and governmental modeling efforts, which the agencies hope will lead to the development of a nationwide dispersion model for both on-and offshore sources.

The modeling code is currently in alpha version with EPA; final updates are not expected for at least a year. BOEM plans to continue funding additional AERMOD modifications into 2023.

-- BOEM --

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for America’s offshore energy and mineral resources. The bureau promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.