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Weinstein: EPA, Interior arrive late and uninvited to the fracking party


The following ran in the May 22, 2012, edition of the Star-Telegram. Economist Bernard Weinstein provided expertise for this story.

May 30, 2012

By Bernard L. Weinstein

Special to the Star-Telegram

 Last month, the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency issued 588 pages of new regulations to control alleged "air pollution" from natural-gas wells. The anti-carbon crowd believes that adding another layer of regulatory "oversight," with its attendant compliance costs, will somehow retard development of this abundant and versatile domestic energy resource.

EPA's concern is that when fracking fluids are withdrawn from gas wells, some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene rise to the surface. But a 2010 report from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found only two cases out of 94 monitoring sites where VOC and methane levels exceeded state guidelines.

Responsible drilling companies across the nation already use technologies developed in the North Texas Barnett Shale to capture the vast majority of these gases. EPA's imposition of additional monitoring and reporting requirements will simply drive up the cost of gas production with no significant health or environmental benefits.

The EPA may have exceeded its mandate with these new directives....

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