The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a schedule to develop standards for wastewater discharges produced by natural gas extraction from underground coalbed and shale formations.
No comprehensive set of national standards exists at this time for the disposal of wastewater discharged from natural gas extraction activities, and over the coming months EPA will begin the process of developing a proposed standard with the input of stakeholders, including industry and public health groups.
The announcement is in line with the priorities identified in President Obama's "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future," and is consistent with the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recommendations on steps to support the safe development of natural gas resources.
"The president has made clear that natural gas has a central role to play in our energy economy," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "That is why we are taking steps in coordination with our federal partners and informed by the input of industry experts, states and public health organizations to make sure the needs of our energy future are met safely and responsibly."
Recent technology and operational improvements in extracting natural gas resources, particularly shale gas, have increased gas drilling activities across the country.
Production from shale formations has grown from a negligible amount just a few years ago to almost 15% of total U.S. natural gas production, and this share is expected to triple in the coming decades.
The sharp rise in domestic production has improved U.S. energy security and created jobs, and as with any resource the administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to leverage these resources safely and responsibly, including understanding any potential impact on water resources.