effects. The EPA is focused not only on reducing VOCs from that process, but also reducing methane emissions, a greenhouse gas.

Regulations are based on input from the public, industry, environmental organizations, public health organizations, and state regulators. Mr. Perciasepe stated that these newer regulations are good examples of how natural gas resources can be developed while protecting public health and natural resources. The additional costs resulting from these regulations will be offset by the increase in natural gas captured; according to Mr. Perciasepe, an estimated $19 million will be saved annually by implementation of these regulations.

Mr. Perciasepe emphasized that safe water is a priority area of concern, including drinking water sources, the amount of water being used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and underground chemical injection control. The EPA has begun a study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, both groundwater and surface water. Mr. Perciasepe feels that when it is completed, the study will help move forward some of the scientific uncertainties related to water and hydraulic fracturing. Further, it will equip both the EPA and policy makers with evidence to inform decision making.

Mr. Perciasepe noted that the water used in hydraulic fracturing is recycled and reused, but eventually, the water will be disposed in a sewage treatment plant. Current EPA regulations do not allow for hydraulic fracturing fluids to be discharged into surface waters. The EPA is in the process of developing guidelines to regulate what quality level must be achieved before the water can be discharged into other treatment systems. Minimal disruption is the intent, according to Mr. Perciasepe.

The EPA is completing guidelines for underground injection control permitting groups in regional offices as well as some of the state agencies that have primacy for the underground injection control program on what practices should be used if any diesel fuel is used in the fracturing fluids. To the extent that these components of a fracturing fluid are not exempted under federal law, Mr. Perciasepe stressed that the EPA wants to ensure that there are proper guidelines in place if and when they use.

One common misconception he mentioned is that the EPA is standing in the way of natural gas and oil and natural resource development. Mr. Perciasepe noted that since 2008, natural gas and oil production in the United States has actually increased. Further, crude oil production in 2010 was higher than it was in any year in the previous decade. Production is occurring, but the EPA is committed to minimizing environmental and public health impacts.

Mr. Perciasepe reiterated that environmental and public health protection has a solid history to guide the approaches for the future. Forty years ago, air pollution in most cities in the United States was visible; water was visibly polluted, and other environmental hazards were clear. He noted that considerable progress has been made, but the



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement