US Issues Pollution Rules for Gas Wells, Offers Phase-In

(BLOOMBERG) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the first rules to combat air pollution from natural-gas drilling, while giving companies until 2015 to meet the most stringent requirements opposed by the energy industry.

The regulations will primarily affect theestimated 13,000 wells a year drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to free underground gas in shale formations. The EPA rejected a bid by the American Petroleum Institute to exempt a number of wells from the requirements altogether.

An EPA draft of the rule would have put the requirements into effect in about 60 days. The final regulation delays until Jan. 1, 2015, a requirement that drillers capture gases when first tapping a well. Operators must burn off that gas during the phase-in period, the EPA said.

Read full column by Mark Drajem and Jim Efstathiou in BLOOMBERG