The new federal rules limiting air pollution from oil and gas operations are aimed at smog precursors and air toxics — but it’s the role of methane in the rules that bothers industry and environmentalists alike.
And as the effective date for the rules approaches, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency faces possible challenge from both sides.
The April 17 rules mandate the use of “green completion” technology on fractured wells. The technology controls releases of smog-forming volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and air toxics, as mandated by the Clean Air Act.
The rules address, in large part, the awkward moment in the life of a shale well between fracturing and production: the period of days when what’s coming out of the ground is not just wastewater, but isn’t yet mostly natural gas.