Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

EPA Issues First Emissions Rules for Fracking

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, says the new rules will "an important step toward tapping future energy supplies without exposing American families and children to dangerous health threats in the air they breathe.”

Well, the time has come for federal regulation of fracking, a drilling practice in widespread use across Texas. Up until now it’s been a practice regulated by states, but in new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, the federal government will now have oversight over emissions from fracking.

The EPA says the standards are required by the Clean Air Act, and will “reduce 95 percent of the harmful emissions from these wells that contribute to smog and lead to health impacts.” It argues that the standards, which focus on preventing gas leaks from fracking wells that can cause health impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, “will also enable companies to collect additional natural gas that can be sold.”

The EPA says half of fracking wells are already capturing such leaks, and whatever costs are associated with complying with the new rules can be offset by selling the gas trapped. The agency calls the technology used for this “green completions.”

The rules will be phased in over the next few years. By 2015, all new wells must utilize the “green completion” technology. You can read more at the EPA’s website.

And we’ll have reaction from Texas as it comes in.


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