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Ohio Utica Shale

EPA Inspector General questions air data from drilling

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2013

From the Associated Press:

Limited data and unreliable estimates on air pollution from oil and natural gas production is hindering the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to police the drilling boom, the agency's internal watchdog said in a report released Thursday.

Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. said the EPA has failed to directly measure emissions from some pieces of equipment and processes, and some estimates it does have are of "questionable quality."

"With limited data, human health risks are uncertain, states may design incorrect or ineffective emission control strategies, and EPA's decisions about regulating industry may be misinformed," Elkins said.

The EPA, under President Barack Obama, has stepped up regulation of natural gas drilling, which has been booming thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. About 25,000 wells a year are being fracked, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are injected at high pressure underground to release trapped natural gas.

Obama also wants to expand natural gas production, as long as it doesn't damage the environment.

Oil and gas production, from the well site to processing plants to storage tanks and transmission lines, releases toxic and cancer-causing air pollutants, smog-forming gases and methane, a potent greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The oil and gas industry has said the EPA has overestimated emissions of methane and argued that they already were working to reduce pollution, without the agency's intervention.

The EPA last year issued the first-ever standards to control smog- and soot-forming gases from gas wells site, and updated existing rules to reduce cancer-causing pollution, such as benzene, from other equipment.

The agency, in response to the report, agreed to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve its pollution figures.

An industry association, America's Natural Gas Alliance, had not seen the report and had no comment late Thursday.

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Online:

Inspector general's report: http://1.usa.gov/XPdsCr

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.