EPA to Regulate Fracking

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For the first time the federal government is getting involved with regulating natural gas drilling, something that has become a way of life for a big part of our area.

The regulation has to do with air pollution.

This first regulation from the federal government deals with the gasses that escape into the air during natural gas production.

Those who don't live in the area with all the natural gas drilling, probably haven't seen the way many drilling companies are dealing with those gasses now.

It's quite a sight.

It sounds like you're at Philadelphia International Airport and it looks like a massive Bunson burner you used in chemistry class.

It is known as a burn off at a natural gas well near Auburn in Susquehanna County.

It is how many companies currently deal with the natural gas and other gasses that escape right after a well is first drilled and fracked.

The EPA said the flares used at wells are fine, for now, but the federal government will soon require companies to use equipment to capture those gasses.

The federal regulations go into effect in 2015, but until then, the federal government will require natural gas drillers to burn off the excess gasses or start capturing them now.

The burning off is something that has been happening at drill sites in our area for years.

"Within a few minutes I think they're burning off all the gas that we'd use in a season," said Donna Hill.

She lives just up the road from the flaring well. She's in favor of the gas drilling, but is happy to hear the federal government will require capturing the gasses instead of burning them.

Much of what burns is usable natural gas.

"I think that's the best idea I've heard in a long time. It's been a sore spot with me that they are flaring. It's a great looking fire but it's a lot of wasted resource," Hill added.

"We want to let the gas go and everyone wants the money for it but we still want to live here and have a beautiful place to live like we have now," said Neil Traver.

He can also see the flare and hear its roar. He understands it's a necessary step for now, but he doesn't mind the federal government starting to regulate natural gas drilling and fracking.

"I think it's a good thing. You have to watch the environment. You can't let everything go free and be unregulated. You do have to watch out what you're doing and make sure it's controllable," Traver added.

There was no comment from gas companies Newswatch 16 contacted.

For now, the EPA said the flaring is much safer for the environment than just letting the gasses escape into the air.

The flaring usually lasts for a couple of weeks.