Report: Flaws in EPA Drilling Pollution Data
The State Journal
22 February 2013
By Dina Cappiello, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Limited data and unreliable estimates on air
pollution from oil and natural gas production are hindering the
Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to police the drilling
boom, the agency's internal watchdog said in a report released
Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. said the EPA has failed to
directly measure emissions from some pieces of equipment and
processes, and some estimates it does have are of "questionable
"With limited data, human health risks are uncertain, states may
design incorrect or ineffective emission control strategies, and
EPA's decisions about regulating industry may be misinformed,"
The EPA, under President Barack Obama, has stepped up regulation
of natural gas drilling, which has been booming thanks to
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. About 25,000 wells a year are
being fracked, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are
injected at high pressure underground to release trapped natural
Obama also wants to expand natural gas production as long as it
doesn't damage the environment.
Oil and gas production, from the well site to processing plants to
storage tanks and transmission lines, releases toxic and
cancer-causing air pollutants, smog-forming gases and methane, a
potent greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
The oil and gas industry has said the EPA has overestimated
emissions of methane and argued that they already were working to
reduce pollution without the agency's intervention.
The EPA last year issued the first-ever standards to control smog-
and soot-forming gases from gas wells site and updated existing
rules to reduce cancer-causing pollution, such as benzene, from
The agency, in response to the report, agreed to develop a
comprehensive strategy to improve its pollution figures.
An industry association, America's Natural Gas Alliance, had not
seen the report and had no comment late Thursday.