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EPA Proposes New Fracking Standards

September 29, 2011

LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding hearings this week on new nationwide environmental standards for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a controversial process of tapping oil and gas reserves. The EPA wants all fracking wells to be fitted with special equipment to separate oil and gas from byproducts. Those byproducts have been implicated in air and water pollution in Wyoming, with links to serious health conditions for nearby residents.

Retired EPA scientist Weston Wilson is testifing, saying the new standards are similar to ones currently on the books in Wyoming, but there isn't consistent enforcement yet.

"They would require this produced water that comes back after a fracking job to be collected, in a process called a 'green completion.' Right now, the industry does not do this."

Industry representatives counter that the equipment is expensive, health problems have not been proven and new technologies are already being implemented to treat the wastewater.

The equipment would recapture most of the gas that is currently wasted, which advocates for the standards say would not only help the environment but would also save the industry money - to the tune of $30 million a year.

David Ellenberger, regional outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation, says the EPA is taking a big step in the right direction.

"This is a real win-win for both the environment and the economy. The fact of the matter is that these rules are long overdue."

The EPA says the new rules would reduce carcinogenic air pollutants by 30 percent annually, as well as cut overall smog by 25 percent. The agency must take final action on the proposal by Feb. 28, 2012.

The proposed standards are available on the EPA website, www.epa.gov.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY