Friday, April 20, 2012

USEPA Releases Fracking Emission Regulations

USEPA’s new fracking emission standards, released Wednesday, April 18, require shale gas fracking owners and operators to either flare volatile emissions, or employ green completions technologies to reduce air pollution from fracking well operations. After January 1, 2015, permissibility of emission flares will be eliminated and all fracking wells will be required to use the green completion technology to reduce 95% of VOC emissions from shale gas recovery operations.

Colorado and Wyoming already regulate fracking well emissions. USEPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy describes the new regulations as “practical, flexible, affordable, and achievable.” American Petroleum Institute’s Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman acknowledges that EPA’s just published final rule is better than the agency’s initial proposal. “EPA has made some improvements in the new rules that allow our companies to continue reducing emissions while producing the oil and natural gas our country needs,” Feldman remarked.

On the other hand, Natural Resources Defense Council staff scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman complains the rules are far too long in coming: “The rapid expansion of oil and natural gas drilling without modern air pollution controls has exposed millions of Americans to a toxic brew of cancer-causing, smog-producing, and climate-changing air pollutants. … The oil and gas industry has failed even to adopt pollution controls that pay for themselves.”

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