EPA Chief Promises New Clean Air Rules Related to Fracking

Jun 29th, 2011 | By Mark | Category: Fracking, Lead Articles, Regulation

NatGas Consulting

Methane drillers are sinking new hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, wells at a rapid pace across the country.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency is working to develop new rules to regulate air pollution generated by natural gas drillers engaged in hydraulic fracturing, according to a story published today in the Aspen Daily News.

“You are going to have huge smog problems where you never had them before,” Jackson said of the areas where hydraulic fracturing is being done. “These are rural areas. … There is a lot of activity around those wells and that has an impact on air quality — and we know it already. The EPA will soon be coming out with regulations to deal with the air quality around natural gas production.”

Jackson made her comments yesterday in an interview with National Public Radio’s Michele Norris at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Jackson said the new rules could be expected to be issued at the conclusion of the EPA’s two-year study of the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it has  come to be known in the parlance of our times.

From the Aspen Daily News story:

She added Tuesday that keeping groundwater safe from fracking pollution means keeping natural gas companies in line, and monitoring how they protect drinking water while drilling.

“If you get a bad operator in there,” she said, “someone who is not responsible, who is not seeing how important it is to get this right, they can contaminate an aquifer.”

Meanwhile, she praised the promise of cleaner energy from natural gas production and the economic boom it has provided to areas like Garfield County.

“Natural gas is an economic engine in communities that, literally a few years ago, didn’t have one … All of a sudden they are literally boom towns,” she said. “I think natural gas production is an incredible opportunity for this country to transition to a cleaner fuel.”

Those last comments have some observers worried.

From the Bluedaze blog, which covers fracking in Texas:

Only, this part worries me:

…Jackson said her agency is acting to control air quality in areas that are facing new impacts.

I hope that is not a hint that the new rules will only cover new sources and not existing sources. If it’s just new sources, then we are sunk.

Indeed, a number of states are already reporting air quality that rivals that of Los Angeles for smog contamination due to fracking activities.

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