The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is slated to propose new nationwide clean air regulations for the oil and gas drilling operations today.
The proposal is in response to a lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance in 2009. It comes as oil and gas drilling operations are increasingly impacting public health across the nation. Take for example recent reports of cancer-causing gases found in the air near wells in western Colorado and northwestern New Mexico (click here for the full Global Community Monitor report).
Word is, the rules are likely to reduce methane emissions by up to 95% from oil and gas production operations. Methane, otherwise known as natural gas, is not only a valuable product, it’s a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Here is a brief statement from an EPA advisory:
EPA will propose rules that include the first national air standards for more than 25,000 new and existing natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured, or re-fractured, and completed each year. They also add or strengthen requirements for storage tanks and other types of equipment.
Natural gas is an extremely clean-burning fuel that plays an important role in our nation’s clean energy future, but natural gas production cannot occur at the expense of public health and the environment. These standards rely on existing, cost-effective methods that allow operators to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes into the air. Leveraging this technology will save tens of millions of dollars while cutting emissions of benzene and other air toxics, methane – a potent greenhouse gas, as well as volatile organic compounds.
Stay tuned for more.
Oil and gas flaring in North Park, Colorado (photo by EcoFlight)