EPA Seeks to Control Pollution from Fracked Natural Gas Wells

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Whether or not the natural gas industry wants more attention about its horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling practices, it’s receiving plenty, this time from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Numerous people complain the current natural gas drilling boom is polluting the air in some parts of the country. As a result the EPA has proposed for the measures to control air pollution. This is the first such step taken by the EPA concerning air pollution at oil and gas wells, notably those drilled using fracking procedures.

The proposal, issued to meet a court deadline, addresses air pollution problems reported in places such as Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, where new drilling techniques have led to a rush to obtain natural gas that was once considered inaccessible. More than 25,000 wells are being drilled annually by deploying fracking. Racking injects sand, water and chemicals to support drilling activity so that are shale formations containing natural gas and oil can be fractured, thus allowing the petroleum compounds to emerge.

EPA insiders say these proposed regulations have been designed to eliminate the release of soot at the wellhead. New controls on storage tanks, transmission pipelines and other equipment would also reduce the leak of toxic greenhouse gases like methane, a primary pollutant that comes with natural gas.

Methane is considered to be one of the most powerful contributors to global warming.

The rules have a good side for extractive concerns, says the EPA, noting that energy companies might realize about $30 million a year in revenue by selling the gas they are forced to collect.

EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy said the steps announced Thursday would help ensure “responsible production” of domestic energy. The agency also indicates it is studying whether or not hydraulic fracturing is polluting water, a claim that has been made by some.

Huffington Post Green has reported that in March, “pollution from natural gas drilling in the Upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming triggered levels of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, worse than those recorded in Los Angeles, one of the smoggiest cities in the U.S.”

Photo:  karathepirate

Related stories:

  1. Are Arkansas Earthquakes Related to Fracking?
  2. ‘Fracking’ Violates Safe Drinking Water Act, Congressional Letter Charges
  3. France is Now First Nation to Ban ‘Fracking’
  4. Fracking and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week
  5. Fracking Concerns Dim Excitement About Natural Gas Production
  6. NJ Senate Passes First Bill to Ban Controversial Hydraulic Gas Fracturing (Fracking)

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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