Bloomberg News

Fracturing-Pollution Rule to Burden Gas Producers, API Says

December 05, 2011

(Updates with comment from EPA in final paragraph.)

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Air-pollution limits proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency for U.S. oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, will be costly and waste time, the American Petroleum Institute said.

The EPA’s plan to cut emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds by about a quarter, with an almost 95 percent reduction from new and updated gas wells using fracturing, or fracking, will require too many tests and reports, said Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs.

“These requirements will be overly burdensome,” Feldman said today on a conference call from Washington. “They will waste time and resources of the industry and the EPA.”

Fracking is a technique used by companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Southwestern Energy Co. that injects chemicals and water into rock formations to free trapped gas. It has been tied to an increase in smog pollution in rural areas such as western Wyoming.

The emission limits, incorporating four air regulations issued on Oct. 28, will trigger too much monitoring, and performance testing, and might cause a shortage of equipment necessary to abide by the rules, according to the industry group.

The EPA under President Barack Obama also is working on rules regarding water discharges from drilling operations, which are scheduled to take effect in 2014, and the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking Study

A comprehensive study of fracking and its effect on drinking water, ordered by Congress, will produce two reports, to be released in 2012 and 2014, Cynthia Dougherty, a director at the EPA, told the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Oct. 20. The Interior Department plans to require the disclosure of chemicals used to fracture shale formations on public lands.

The American Petroleum Institute expects a final rule on emissions from production in April.

“EPA’s schedule will not allow adequate time to review and analyze all stakeholder comments, develop necessary revisions to the rules, and complete internal and interagency reviews,” API said in comments filed to the agency yesterday.

The EPA works to ensure that U.S. shale resources are developed without harming the public’s health and the environment, according to an agency statement today.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, Larry Liebert

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at

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