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The EPA’s First Fracking Rules: Limited And Delayed

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The EPA’s First Fracking Rules: Limited And Delayed


by Lena Groeger, ProPublica


The Environmental Protection Agency issued the first-ever national air pollution regulations for fracking on Wednesday. First proposed in July 2011, the final rules have been welcomed by environmental groups as a much-needed initial move in reducing pollution and protecting public health from the toxic chemicals involved in the oil and natural gas drilling process. But many cautioned it was just a first step.

“It sets a floor for what the industry needs to do,” said attorney Erik Schlenker-Goodrich of the Western Environmental Law Center. “The reality is we can do far better.”

Over the past few years, more information has come out about fracking’s potential harms to the environment and human health, particularly relating to the risk of groundwater contamination. In addition to the many potentially toxic components of the highly pressurized fluid injected into the ground during the natural gas drilling process, fracking can also release cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and greenhouse gases like methane into the air. The federal government has made moves to tighten regulations, and we’ve chronicled the history of those regulations.

The EPA’s new rules don’t cover most of those issues. Instead, they address a single problem with natural gas: air pollution.

“These rules do not resolve chronic water, public health and other problems associated with fracking and natural gas,” Schlenker-Goodrich said.

The agency is actually barred from regulating the impact of fracking on groundwater because, in 2005, Congress exempted fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act. Congressional proposals to give the EPA more oversight have so far failed.

With the new rules on air pollution, the EPA rejected an industry request to exempt some wells with low emissions of toxic compounds but did give drilling companies more time to comply. Notably, the final version provides a two-and-a-half-year transition period (rather than the 60 days in the original proposal) that gives drilling companies until 2015 to comply with the strictest regulations.


  1. EAT THE RICH April 20, 2012

    another bs bandaid. the epa, just like the fda, and all the rest of our ” watchdogs” are owned outright, or corrupted by ,the corps. they are suposidly watching. big money couldn’t care less about who’s water gets posiend . as long as it ain’t theirs. government inspectors who sell us out should be tried for treason, and shot.

    1. ObozoMustGo April 20, 2012

      What the heck does “eat the rich” mean? I’ve been asking you for a while now and you never answer. In light of your silence, does anyone else on here know what “eat the rich” means? Anyone????

      1. EdC April 20, 2012

        It means take their immoral power away from them, almost as much as calling the president who actually cares more about the people then the monied interest, clown. Specially since the republican primaries, even according to most Rpublicans was like watching the clown car at the circus.

        1. ObozoMustGo April 20, 2012

          what does “take their immoral power” mean?

  2. EdC April 20, 2012

    The Republicans want to make the U>S> a third world country, Killing decent wages, outlawing health care, and makeing the enviornment as trashy as possible. They won’t help the infastructure, they give money, from the countries treasury to anyone they consider their friends from the mullas of afganistan and Iraq, to Haliburton and the oil companies, and they help big pharma control drugs every bit as bad Columbian Cartals. Back to oil companies The republicans again voted to give them substies, fracking should stop. the oil sand pipeline should stop, its oil sand. fresh course grit liquid sand paper flowing twerty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year through a pipe, How long can even pipe with half inch steel sides last? and the profits go to the oil Companies, and when, not if, it breaks who gets to pay for it. If The Republicans want to give substies to the oil companies, give them as tax break in R and D of proven other energy forms. It the Republican want to give tax breaks to the “job Creators” do so after they have created a job for a year and give the break in correspondence with the salary of the worker. I’m sure Boehner doesn’t pay the guy that mows his lawn before he does the work. I’m sure Romney doesn’t pay the mother of the two year old to pick up dressage horse poop before its done, so why the double standard for promices that have yet come to fruitation. Fracking should stop. period as the oil pipeline, maybe they could build solar or wind farms on the abandoned, oil islands that are now just navigation nucences, and accidents waiting to happen.


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