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EPA Releases Final Fracturing Air Rule

by James A. Pardo and Brandon H. Barnes The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final regulations on April 17 to reduce certain emissions at hydraulically fractured wells by 95 percent.  The rule, a product of a February 2010 consent decree with WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance, adds New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and amends existing National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) for the oil and gas industry. NSPS Standards The NSPS standards will reduce by 95 percent volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions during the completion phase of hydraulically fracturing a well.  In addition, although not a regulated substance under NSPS, the new rules have the effect of reducing fugitive methane emissions by 25 percent.  These VOC and methane emissions reductions will be attained by requiring that all newly fractured or refractured wells incorporate reduced emissions controls...

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Hydraulic Fracturing: Air Joins Water as Point of Contention

by James A. Pardo and Brandon H. Barnes The public and regulators alike continue to scrutinize the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water resources – e.g., possible contamination of drinking water; volume of water used; and disposal of used fracing wastewater.  These water issues have dominated the debate for some time, overshadowing concerns that some have raised about potential impacts from an air quality perspective. Recent events, however, indicate that air emissions are likely to become a fracing issue. On April 3, Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the agency to consider a recent Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH) study linking air emissions from hydraulic fracturing activities to increased risks of cancer and non-cancer illnesses.  The letter comes one day after EPA delayed publication of final rules for air emissions from oil and gas...

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