By Jason Shueh – Greeley Tribune – Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released regulations targeting air pollution generated from thousands of oil and gas wells across the country.
The EPA labeled the regulation as a “cost effective” way to reduce smog forming volatile organic compounds on hydraulically “fracked” oil and gas wells. The agency estimated the new rules would lead to a 95 percent reduction in emissions from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured wells each year.
“This levels the playing field,” said EPA Air Administrator Gina McCarthy, introducing the regulation in a telephone conference with reporters. She said the rule was designed to promote responsible production of natural gas and to protect the public, and it would “do it in a way that more than pays for itself.”
Additionally, the EPA said the regulations would also reduce toxic elements in the air suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects. A primary part of the rule will require companies to capture the burst of emissions that occurs as a well is being prepared for commercial production.
The regulation will take effect in 2015 when all fracked wells will be required to use “green completions.” The process involves truck-mounted equipment that captures the waste that flows for about 3-10 days after water, sand and chemicals are injected into a well. The captured gas and liquid hydrocarbons can then be separated, treated and sold — which the EPA estimated would generate a cost savings of $11-19 million.
Many oil and gas companies and their supporting organizations were hesitant to comment formally on the regulations until they could review them in depth. Two of Weld County’s dominant oil and gas producers, Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy, were among companies in the holding pattern.
“We don’t have any official statement right now, we’re reviewing internally. I suspect everyone is kind of digesting it,” said Jonathan Ekstrom, a spokesman for Noble Energy.
Anadarko spokesman Brian Cain said the company has always been committed to developing energy resources in a way that protects the environment, including air and water quality. He said the company for years has proactively implemented numerous emissions-control systems throughout its operations and would continue to do so.