By ROBERT SCHROEDER
WASHINGTON -- Wells where natural gas is captured through
the controversial "fracking" technique will have until 2015 to
comply with new rules designed to reduce air pollution, the US
Environmental Protection Agency said
The rules, first proposed in July, would compel drillers to
capture the emissions resulting from drilling
The EPA said it is phasing in the rules for "fracked"
natural gas wells to "ensure emissions reduction technology is broadly
Some environmentalists say that fracking
- which involves the blasting of water and chemicals
underground to extract natural gas or oil - threatens
groundwater near homes and schools.
President Barack Obama regularly says that natural gas is an
important part of the US energy supply, and has voiced support
for fracking that doesn't endanger health or safety.
Republicans, meanwhile, accuse the president of trying to
put the brakes on fracking.
Last week, Obama set up an interagency group to coordinate
US policy regulating natural gas
drilling methods including fracking, formally called hydraulic
The EPA says that companies will be able to sell the gas
that they capture as a result of the rules. Industry will save
between $11 million to $19 million a year, the agency
"By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously
released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these
updated standards will not only protect our health, but also
lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,"
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.
The oil and gas industry last week told the EPA that
controls on wells that have low amounts of volatile organic
compounds from drilling-related emissions won't be
In a letter to Jackson, American Petroleum Institute
president and CEO Jack Gerard said control measures should only
apply to wells whose gas stream is 10% or more of volatile
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