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EPA to Finalize Air Pollution Regs at Oil and Gas Wells

Photo by Kirk Siegler

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue a final rule later this month on new, tougher air pollution regulations at oil and gas drilling sites.  But some Colorado-based conservation groups are worried it may not be tough enough to protect public health.

In 2009, Earth Justice and the Colorado-based San Juan Citizen’s Alliance successfully sued the federal government, charging its rules governing emissions at drilling sites hadn’t been updated in more than two decades. 

New technologies surrounding the process of hydraulic fracturing have led to a drilling boom in places such as the Front Range. All the more reason for the update, says Robin Cooley, staff attorney with Earth Justice in Denver.

"Not only are they out of date, but the current standards only apply to a very small fraction of the sources of pollution from this vast industry," Cooley said.

Cooley and other conservation groups say the new rules have been "under attack" by the industry. 

But some companies have argued the rules, as proposed last fall at public meetings in Colorado and around the country, would be costly to implement and could curtail domestic oil and gas production.

The EPA is expected to issue its final rule by April 17th.

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