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EPA Tackles Oil and Gas Air Pollution

August 12, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The EPA is taking a close look at what happens to air quality when oil and gas drilling operations move in. The agency is updating industry rules for monitoring and reducing pollution, which can include chemicals used in production, as well as the usual pollution: ozone and particles.

Gopa Ross, with the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter, says current regulations are fuzzy and not tough enough.

"We're allowing oil and gas to voluntarily follow these rules, if feasible or economically reasonable. I don't think they're going to voluntarily follow rules they perceive as optional."

Oil and gas company concerns focus on costs and definitions of "best technologies" that are expected to required by the rules.

Ross acknowledges concerns about costs, but counters that more-stringent and scientifically-based regulations are in everyone's best interest, and may help stave off future lawsuits.

"Approaching industry operations in this manner will protect investors, royalty owners, local and state government appropriations, and public welfare in communities across the nation."

The upcoming rule update is part of a lawsuit settlement, and is expected to be finalized in about a year. The original lawsuit was filed WildEarth Guardians and the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY