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EPA fracking rules earn praise and criticism

April 19, 2012 at 8:31 AM

WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The energy industry praised some measures outlined in EPA standards for oil and natural gas production while environmental groups expressed concerns.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined measures that would curb air pollution associated with the hydraulic fracturing of shale natural gas deposits. The rules would limit the release of volatile organic compounds and methane, though the EPA gave the energy industry three years to implement technology to curb methane emissions.

Howard Feldman, director of regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, praised the EPA for the measure.

"The industry has led efforts to reduce emissions by developing new technologies that were adopted in the rule," he said in a statement. "EPA has made some improvements in the rules that allow our companies to continue reducing emissions while producing the oil and natural gas our country needs."

Apart from methane, the new rules take effect in 60 days. The EPA, in a statement, said the measures would reduce 95 percent of the emissions that contribute to smog production from fracked wells.

Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, described the measure as "an important first step," saying more work was needed given the industries previous "free pollution pass."

"It's time we clean up the natural gas industry's dirty and reckless practices," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

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