Bloomberg News

EPA’s Proposed Fracking Rules Seen Cutting Gas Drilling

March 15, 2012

Regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on air pollution would reduce drilling for natural gas using hydraulic fracturing by as much as 52 percent, the American Petroleum Institute said.

The industry-backed group, in a report today on the process, called fracking, urged the Obama administration to scale-back the rules before they are issued in final form next month. The EPA’s proposal is being reviewed at the White House, and President Barack Obama has made production of natural gas from shale a key part of his energy strategy.

There is “a big-picture view in the administration that we want these fuels,” Howard Feldman, director of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Washington-based group, said today on a conference call with reporters. “We think the administration will be cognizant of that” when reviewing the EPA proposal.

The agency’s rule covers air emissions from new oil and gas wells of all types, requiring monitoring and performance testing. The EPA said its initial proposal would lead to the capture of 95 percent of the smog-causing gases that now escape during fracking operations.

Hydraulic fracturing, technology that releases gas trapped in shale rock by injecting water, sand and chemicals thousands of feet underground, is used for almost every new natural-gas well drilled on U.S. lands. When a well is initially fracked, methane can be released into the air. Environmental groups want drillers to be forced to capture that gas before it escapes.

In its report today, the institute, which represents companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), said the equipment and technology aren’t available to do that at every new well being fracked.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net


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