EPA Proposes Air Pollution Standards for Oil and Gas Production

Source: Cozen O’Connor’s Energy, Environmental and Utilities Group “News Concerning Recent Developments in Energy and Environmental Law” Newsletter, August 16, 2011

On July 28, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new proposed standards that would reduce air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. The rules take aim at smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions that are released by equipment and processes used in the drilling industry.

The proposed rule calls for a 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells. To achieve these reductions, drilling companies will need to install “closed loop” systems to capture the natural gas that currently escapes during the drilling process.

Some companies have already installed such systems or are in the process of doing so because the captured gas can then be sold. The EPA estimates that the new regulations will result in net savings to the drilling industry. More information on the announcement can be found here.

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