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Flaws in frac drilling pollution data, EPA says

By Dina Cappiello
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Limited data and unreliable estimates on air pollution from oil and natural gas production is hindering the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to police the drilling boom, the agency’s internal watchdog said.

Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. said in a report that the EPA has failed to directly measure emissions from some pieces of equipment and processes, and some estimates it does have are of “questionable quality.”

“With limited data, human health risks are uncertain, states may design incorrect or ineffective emission control strategies, and EPA’s decisions about regulating industry may be misinformed,” Elkins said.

The EPA, under President Barack Obama, has stepped up regulation of natural gas drilling, which has been booming because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. About 25,000 wells a year are being fracked, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are injected at high pressure underground to release trapped natural gas.

A pair of workers stand behind a pump that is used during the hydraulic fracturing process July 27, 2011, in Claysville, Pa. The EPA’s internal watchdog said limited data and unreliable estimates for air pollution from oil and natural gas production is making it difficult for the federal government to monitor the drilling industry. (AP file photo by Keith Srakocic)

Obama also wants to expand natural gas production, as long as it doesn’t damage the environment.

Oil and gas production, from the well site to processing plants to storage tanks and transmission lines, releases toxic and cancer-causing air pollutants, smog-forming gases and methane, a potent greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The oil and gas industry has said the EPA has overestimated emissions of methane and argued that they already were working to reduce pollution, without the agency’s intervention.

The EPA last year issued the first standards to control smog- and soot-forming gases from gas wells site, and updated existing rules to reduce cancer-causing pollution, such as benzene, from other equipment.

The agency, in response to the report, agreed to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve its pollution figures.

An industry association, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, had not seen the report and had no comment.

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3 comments

  1. Dina Cappiello is the worst kind of reporter there is. They don’t want to report news, they want to invent sensational news. The very agency being written about states they have limited data, unreliable estimates, and “questionable quality”. Yet Cappiello states with unabashed certainty that the process is releasing toxins, and cancer causing air pollutants, and methane, the same thing cows and humans emit. Apparently Cappiello has better testing data than the EPA. Shame on you, shame on the professor, and shame on the higher institution of learning that said you are a journalist. You also date yourself by saying “Global Warming”, didn’t you get the memo stating it’s now “Climate Change”.

  2. Do you get your “information” from someone who listens to a Fox News affiliate then tries to relate what “news” they heard to you?

  3. I would wager that you went to the same institution as Cappiello since you lack the ability to read this article and understand that the person who wrote it is pushing you to their conclusion rather than stating facts, of which there are none in this article.
    If I followed the example of this article I would state that Clovis must be a woman because she lacks the balls to use her real full name and stand by her statement.

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