The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the nation's first air-pollution standards for natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured – the controversial process known as fracking.
With its announcement, the EPA has endeavored to answer the Obama administration's call for additional domestic natural gas production that is environmentally sound. In addition to being criticized for potential adverse effects on ground water, fracking has been called out for contributing to air pollution. The EPA's new standards seek to minimize the amount of gases that are released into the atmosphere during the drilling and collection processes.
‘These updated standards will not only protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,’ said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, in a statement.
The updated standards require natural gas companies and their partners to use ‘proven, cost-effective technologies and practices’ to capture the natural gas that often escapes a well, along with volatile organic compounds, benzene and hexane. The EPA says such technologies are already being used at more than half of the fracked wells in the U.S.