EPA releases first-ever air standards for ‘fracking’ to cheers and jeers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 18 announced that it was releasing “updated, achievable” air pollution standards for oil and natural gas – including standards for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

EPA said in a statement that half of fracked wells already deploy technology in line with the final standards.

The immediate reaction was predictable. Earthjustice released statements from environmental group leaders who praised EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS).

In a press release, Earthjustice said that it wished the standards could have been released sooner.

“EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is taking an important first step in closing loopholes for the natural gas industry and addressing dangerous air quality levels in and near frack-fields across the country,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement he wanted to see more detail on the rules and was worried about their impact on small producers.

“The Obama EPA has been working aggressively to assert control over natural gas production so that they can regulate it out of existence – and this rule is just the latest in that grand scheme,” Inhofe said. “It’s no secret that EPA has been trying hard to manufacture a correlation between groundwater contamination and hydraulic fracturing, but in each case, they were unable to find sound scientific evidence to make this link. So now, they’re attempting to usurp control through air regulations,” added the Oklahoma Republican.

Fracking and horizontal drilling have been credited with the rising production level of natural gas from shale formations. This phenomenon has increased domestic gas supplies, driven down prices and is also credited for increased use of natural gas for power generation.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.