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EPA Moves to Crack Down on Oil and Gas Pollution

A drill rig at the Jonah Field in Wyoming.
Photo by Kirk Siegler
A drill rig at the Jonah Field in Wyoming.

Conservationists are praising a slate of new air pollution regulations on oil and gas drilling proposed Thursday by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  The new rules stem from a lawsuit filed by a Colorado and New Mexico-based group.

EPA says the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source for emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that contribute to smog.  The agency’s proposed newrules aim to cut emissions of VOCs by a fourth industry-wide, while also putting limits on methane emissions, a suspected cause of cancer. 

The Southwest-based Wild Earth Guardians was one of the groups that sued the EPA forcing the rewrite of the pollution standards.

"Standards that are supposed to ensure the industry is using the latest technologies to keep emissions in check were last promulgated in 1985," said Jeremy Nichols, director of Wild Earth Guardians' climate and energy program in Denver.

 EPA is expected to finalize the new rules by early next year.  

Oil and gas industry officials are urging the agency to delay.  They say they want to ensure the new standards don’t curtail development.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.