Wheeling News-Register editorial: Don’t Cripple Gas Industry

July 29, 2011
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

As usual, the Environmental Protection Agency says a new set of rules will eliminate pollution while saving consumers and industry money. We hope so.

On Thursday, the EPA issued a proposal to regulate air pollution at oil and gas wells. Those using hydraulic fracturing to release gas and oil from rock formations deep underground are of special concern, the agency noted.

Airborne pollution including soot and emissions that cause smog will be eliminated by the rules, according to the EPA. It noted the rules will involve not just drilling sites, but other gas and oil facilities including pipelines.

“The EPA says the rules will save companies about $30 million annually,” The Associated Press reported.

As we reported just a few days ago, air pollution allegedly from drilling sites, compressor stations and other gas industry facilities is of concern to some West Virginians. That very issue was brought up at a hearing on gas industry regulations held earlier this month by state legislators in Wheeling.

And the EPA has heard similar complaints from throughout the country, involving gas drilling in states as far apart as Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Some new rules indeed may be required to control pollution from well drilling sites and related gas and oil facilities.

But we urge EPA officials to work closely with the gas and oil industries to ensure new rules are not more expensive than necessary. Frankly, as we have commented many times, we believe the agency has been unnecessarily harsh regarding the coal industry.

The Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom has pumped millions of dollars into local economies – and probably billions into our state and others. Tens of thousands of new jobs have been created and more are on the horizon. Economically depressed regions are getting new leases on life.

Perhaps most important, the new supplies of gas being unlocked by drilling into the Marcellus formation are important to the nation as a whole. We need the energy – desperately, some would say. EPA officials, while safeguarding air quality, should not make the mistake of crippling an important industry.

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