The final rules are expected to yield a nearly 95 percent reduction in VOC emissions from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured gas wells each year. This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through capturing natural gas that currently escapes into the air, and making that gas available for sale. The rules also will reduce air toxics, which are known or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects, and emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
However companies will have two and a half years before they have to fully comply with the new rules. EPA explains, "until January 2015, owners and operators must either flare their emissions or use emissions reduction technology called 'green completions,' technologies that are already widely deployed at wells. In 2015, all new fractured wells will be required to use green completions."
EPA says that half of existing fracking operations already deploy technology than comply with the final standards.
Commenting on the rules, NRDC's Meleah Geertsma said the rules are a "critical step forward" but said they don't go far enough, adding, "the EPA needs to do more to protect people living near oil and gas production facilities."
No doubt more activist-oriented organizations will be less pleased.