EPA Announces New Natural Gas Rules

Source:  Dina Cappiello, Seattle Times, April 19, 2012.

The EPA has announced national standards to control air pollution from hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  Officials said that the regulations would not slow natural gas production.

“By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these updated standards will protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Drillers will be given more than two years to employ technology to reduce emissions of smog- and soot-forming pollutants.

About 25,000 wells a year are fracked (water, chemicals, and sand are injected into gas wells at high pressure to release trapped natural gas).  Besides the new standards for oil and gas wells, the EPA also updated existing rules for natural gas processing plants, storage tanks, and transmission lines that will reduce amounts of cancer-causing air pollution, such as benzene, and also reduce methane–one of the most potent global warming gases.