EPA Proposes New Rules on Emissions Released by Fracking
another way round the oil industry...
Prohibited from regulating hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, yesterday the EPA took to the air, proposing federal regulations to reduce smog-forming pollutants released by the fast-spreading approach to gas drilling.
If approved as currently written, the rules would amount to the first national standards for fracking of any kind, the EPA said. The agency sets guidelines when companies inject fluids underground for various purposes, but in 2005 Congress prohibited the EPA from doing so for fracking. Regulation has been left to the states, some of which compel companies to report what chemicals they use and have imposed tougher well-design standards.
The new EPA proposal would limit emissions released during many stages of natural gas production and development, but explicitly targets the volatile organic compounds released in large quantities when wells are fracked. Drillers would have to use equipment that captures these gases, reducing emissions by nearly 95 percent, the EPA said.
Environmentalists said the proposed rules represent an important step by federal regulators amid a growing controversy over fracking's safety. "The EPA has a terrific opportunity here to provide the public with some assurance that the industry has to meet certain performance standards that are protective of public health," said Ramon Alvarez, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund in Texas.
The American Petroleum Institute, the country's main oil and gas lobbying group, has requested that the EPA delay finalizing the rules for at least six months beyond the current Feb. 2012 deadline. Asked to comment on the proposal's likely effects, API spokesman Reid Porter said only that the organization was reviewing it.
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