EPA Proposes Air Quality Rules For Fracing

July 2011, Vol. 238 No. 7

On July 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft of new air quality rules for oil and natural gas applications, including processing plants and wells using hydraulic fracturing. The draft had not yet been entered into the federal record, but were available for review and announced upcoming public hearing meetings in Dallas, Pittsburgh and Denver.

The new rules proposed were: “a new source performance standard for VOCs; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.” The rules aim to prevent gas releases into the atmosphere and estimate a 540,000-ton decrease in VOCs across the affected industry, or about 25%, with a $30 million net positive result to companies due to sales of gas that would otherwise have been released. The gas price and material cost used to calculate those figures was not released.

The EPA estimates methane emissions under the new rule would also fall around 25%, while air toxics would fall 30%. Final action on the rule must take place by Feb. 28, 2012.

The proposed rules are available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/20110728proposal.pdf. The EPA has also released a fact sheet on the proposed rules, giving impact assessments, available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/20110728factsheet.pdf.

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