Natural gas companies can keep drilling per usual, say the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules for hydraulic fracturing or, as everybody who's not a government employee refers to it, "fracking." The changes the rules aim to affect won't kick in overnight, however. In what some, like Fuel Fix's Jennifer A Dlouhy, consider another case of the government caving in to the wishes of the well-funded energy lobby, the rules won't take effect until 2015.
The new regulations are designed to cut down on the polluting by-products of fracking, which involves drilling through rock and injecting a water-based chemical mixture to force out natural gas. However, after protest from the lobbyists, the EPA will allow the gas industry to hold on to the status quo until 2015, as long as they burn off some of the carcinogenic gases with a process called "flaring." Of the new plan, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement quoted by The Hill's Andrew Restuccia, "By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these updated standards will protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market... They're an important step toward tapping future energy supplies without exposing American families and children to dangerous health threats in the air they breathe.”
As the EPA previewed the new rules nearly a year ago, everybody pretty much expected this outcome. The EPA expects the new rules to save $11 to $15 million by 2015. After that, the drillers will have to perform a process called "green completion" to trap the nasty fumes.