Authorities in the United States will give mining companies until 2015 to invest in new technologies. The new rules will apply to companies that drill for natural oil & gas. The Obama administration, facing re-election in 2013 and currently in a difficult political climate is wanting to keep the oil & gas industry “on side.” The Environmental Protection Agency is wanting drillers to invest in alternative technologies that will capture the “waste gases”. Companies affected by these changes include Exxon Mobile, one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world.
(Reuters) – U.S. environment regulators said Wednesday they will give natural gas and oil drillers more than two years of extra time to invest in equipment that slashes unhealthy air emissions from fracking wells, citing a lack of clean technology.
Drillers that use fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas and oil will not be required to use the equipment until January 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency said as it finalized long-delayed rules on the smog-forming emissions.
The new rule comes as the Obama administration tries to balance its support for a booming industry that could help the United States become a major exporter of natural gas, while still addressing concerns about its safety.
In a draft rule in July the EPA had proposed drillers would have to invest in equipment to capture the waste gasses soon after the standard was finalized.
Now, drillers will have until 2015 to invest in equipment that capture the emissions, a process known as ‘green completion’. Until then they can burn off, or flare, the gas.
The decision to phase in the requirements for green completion equipment came after the EPA reviewed 150,000 comments on the proposed rule, and after it studied the availability of the equipment, said Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s assistant administrator on air and radiation.
Some companies already conduct green completions voluntarily. They sell the methane to lower the costs, though gas prices at 10-year lows can make the savings harder to achieve.
Companies including Chesapeake Energy and Exxon Mobil could be forced by the rules to invest in pollution control technologies.
Drilling proponents have warned the Obama administration against imposing too many costly restrictions on natural gas. Last week, the White House formed an interagency panel to support gas development and streamline regulation in an executive order that recognized states are the main regulators of natural gas drilling.
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