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April 18, 2012

A First for Fracking Air Pollution: the EPA Steps In

With natural gas companies polluting our air and countless communities mobilizing against them, the Environmental Protection Agency today took a big step forward with a federal safeguard that will curb air pollution and protect families.

This is an important day for the fight against an industry run amok. And the truth is, it might not have come if it wasn't for the 156,000 comments and hundreds of supporters who turned out to demand strong standards at EPA hearings in Pittsburgh, Denver, and Arlington, Texas.

The EPA is "taking an important first step in closing loopholes for the natural gas industry and addressing dangerous air quality levels in and near frack-fields across the country," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "An industry that touts its ability to efficiently drill thousands of wells thousands of feet into the earth is crying wolf when it claims it can't build enough tanks to capture wellhead pollution."  

In recent years natural gas companies have enjoyed special treatment by exploiting numerous loopholes in basic environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act regulations, endangering the health of people across the country.

The EPA's recently announced clear-air rules will substantially curb air pollution from fracking sites and lower emissions of volatile organic compounds, toxic benzene, and methane -- a potent culprit behind climate disruption. These pollutants are known to cause asthma attacks, cancer, and even premature death.

All this is a great news. The industry is too used to fracking recklessly in our communities and today's action from the EPA works to correct it. Although the rules are not perfect, they are an important first step towards fully controlling dangerous pollution from the industry. Environmental groups and families concerned about the health of their communities are looking forward to working with the EPA and the industry to further reasonable safeguards. The fight against the natural gas industry's dangerous fracking practices continues.

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Natural Gas Reform Campaign

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