EPA introduces new emissions rules for fracking

The primary American environmental watchdog has issued a new set of emissions regulations for unconventional natural gas producers, creating the first set of guidelines for hydraulic fracturing operations.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has proven an important tool in developing the extensive natural gas resources trapped in shale plays scattered throughout the country.

However, this process has also led to the release of a significant amount of pollutants, including smog-producers like nitrogen oxide as well as methane, the primary component of natural gas and a powerful greenhouse gas.

The new rules introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require that unconventional natural gas companies capture many of these compounds during the drilling process.

While the EPA has argued that selling these captured gases could result in substantial revenue, concern about the cost of implementing the new rules encouraged the agency to delay the deadline from 60 days to the start of 2015.

"We believe that industry was correct in that we needed to have a ramp-up period," one official told The Associated Press.

Projections for unconventional natural gas through that period can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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