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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been enforcing the Clean Air Act with extraordinary zeal that is typical of a religious crusade. The law was passed in 1970, but under President Barack Obama, its mandates and rules have escalated, particularly for the administration’s stepchild, the oil and gas industry.
On April 17, the EPA turned its sights on natural gas producers through the first federal air standards for natural gas wells. These rules will apply to the 11,400 new wells that are fractured each year and another 1,400 existing wells that are re-fractured, according to EPA estimates. The rules will apply in two phases. Until Jan. 1, 2015, the industry must reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), either by flaring with a completion combustion device or by capturing the gas using a reduced emission completion (REC), or as it is termed, a “green” completion. After Jan. 1, 2015, the operators must capture the gas through a green completion.
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