Initial Reaction to EPA’s New Air Pollution Fracking Rules

The initial response to the EPA’s new 588 pages of rules governing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas well drilling (see this MDN story) was lukewarm from both pro- and anti-drillers—at least in the Pittsburgh area.

Under regulations issued on Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency will require drillers to trap pollutants at wells, which environmentalists like, but will give them until 2015 to meet the most stringent requirements, a compromise the industry requested.

The rules primarily affect the estimated 13,000 wells a year that crews drill using hydraulic fracturing, more than 400 of them in the Pittsburgh area. The process often vents or burns methane into the atmosphere.

"It contains a number of good elements. So yeah, it’s important not to lose sight of that," said Joe Osborne, legal director at the Group Against Smog and Pollution. Two states have similar rules, he said. "It shouldn’t have been delayed this long, frankly."

Marcellus Shale Coalition President Kathryn Klaber called the regulations "mostly workable."

"Our industry continues to leverage many recent technological advancements on an increasingly broader scale in an effort to further heighten and protect environmental quality," Klaber said in a statement.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Apr 19, 2012) – Federal well site waste rules find few fans