As calls to ban it go unheeded and despite the boom-and-bust nature of the industry, fracking remains a reality in states like Pennsylvania. Now at least the Federal government has moved to reduce one of the concerns, the emission of methane, which has a global warming potential at least 28 times greater than that of CO2. On August 18 the EPA proposed a rule to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Some highlights are:
- Covers new and modified sources including well pads, pneumatic devices, compressors, and gathering lines.
- Will require regular leak detection and repair at all wells, a key means of reducing chronically leaky systems.
- Expected to reduce pollution 340,000 to 400,000 short tons of methane in 2025, the equivalent of reducing 7.7 – 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
- To protect public health, will curb emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carcinogens like benzene.
The EPA is expected to announce several public hearings later this fall, and to finalize the standards mid-2016. (more…)