EPA Fracking Air Pollution Rules to Be Delayed One Month

Final standards aimed at limiting air pollution from <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hydraulic_fracturing_fracking">hydraulic fracturing operations will be delayed by about a month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday. According to a Reuters report, the fracking emission rules were supposed to be finalized by February 28, 2012, but now won’t be ready until April 3.

“It is not a devastating blow like the delay in the smog rule was,” Jay Duffy, a lawyer at the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia, told Reuters. “We believe the EPA can make this rule stronger, but if it turns out that it becomes a way for industry to get out of regulation for a month, it will be a net loss.”

As we reported previously, the EPA’s proposed fracking rules are aimed at reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds by 95 percent from “fracked” wells and 25 percent industrywide. According to the agency, the proposed regulations would reduce methane emissions by 3.4 million tons, and cut pollution from benzene and other air toxics by 30 percent. The proposed rules would apply to emissions from more than 11,400 new oil and gas wells that are fracked annually and another 14,000 that are refracked, plus storage tanks and other equipment. The EPA also maintains that the technology needed for drillers to come into compliance would also allow them to capture and sell gas that would normally go to waste; something the EPA said would save the industry $30 million per year.

A court order had mandated that the rules be finalized by February 28, but according to Reuters, the EPA and environmental groups that sued the agency have agreed to a 35-day extension. An agency spokesperson said the extra time was needed to allow the EPA to review comments.

The agency also granted a 30-day extension to the public comment period on the standards to November 30, 2011, Reuters said.

According to Reuters, the EPA has been under attack by Republican lawmakers who say its proposed regulations will kill jobs. The agency recently delayed implementing a rule on smog until at least 2013 at the direction of President Barack Obama.

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