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EPA to Set Standards for Fracking Emissions

April 12, 2012

DENVER - New standards for air pollution caused by natural gas development - including standards for the process known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) - are scheduled to be released next week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The industry claims fracking has minimal environmental impacts, but a study by the Colorado School of Public Health has found that health risks from cancers and asthma are higher than normal for people living near fracking sites in the state.

According to an attorney with Earthjustice, Robin Cooley, it has been 25 years since the EPA last reviewed some of these standards. The industry has changed significantly since then, she says.

"We know that the current rules are inadequate. They don't protect public health. The pollution problems are mounting by the day and expanding into new areas."

She says she hopes for standards like those currently in place in Colorado and Wyoming. They require a capturing of the emissions before they are released into the air.

This pollution isn't a problem just in Colorado, Cooley points out. Fracking development is exploding nationwide, she warns.

"As it's expanding, people in residential areas are now having to deal with oil wells in their backyards and the health impacts that come from those wells."

In 2009, on behalf of Wild Earth Guardians and the San Juan Citizen's Alliance, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit seeking new standards. The new rule is expected to be released on April 17.

The Colorado School of Public Health study is available at

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO