The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it will delay requirements for capturing air emissions from oil and gas wells until 2015, though in the interim the agency will impose other requirements, including gas flaring, that it said would reduce the release of smog-forming and toxic chemicals by 90 percent.
The move represents a victory for firms that use hydraulic fracturing to tap natural gas resources trapped in shale rock. The American Petroleum Institute, which has been harshly critical of the Obama administration’s policies, said EPA’s final rules made “constructive changes” from rules the agency proposed earlier.
Half a dozen environmental groups also praised the new regulations, which they said would “result in major reductions” of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic benzene and natural gas, or methane, a potent contributor to climate change.
The issue of whether to regulate drilling emissions has become a political football in an election year and amid the boom in shale gas drilling over the past three years.