The Environmental Protection Agency is considering new emissions standards for natural gas fracking operations that would cut smog-forming emissions by 95% in the sector. The rules would require companies to capture leaking natural gas using “proven technology” that could be re-used and sold. The agency expects the rules could result in $30 million of net savings for the industry each year.
Environmental and energy groups are split on the value of fracking. While more cleaner-burning natural gas has the potential to knock higher amounts of coal out of the electricity mix, concerns around groundwater contamination and life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions at fracking operations continue to mount. The EPA is currently monitoring seven different sites to determine how the practice impacts groundwater in communities close to drilling operations.
If the EPA goes forward on these new smog standards, the rules would be finalized by February of next year.