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U.S. editorial excerpts.

NEW YORK, April 20 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:

CLEAN AIR AND NATURAL GAS (The New York Times, New York)

The Obama administration's new rules aimed at cutting harmful emissions from natural gas wells are a win for the environment, for the public and for industry. And despite what Republican politicians claim, the rules will not impose major new costs or slow what has been a remarkable boom in natural gas production.

The rules, announced Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, are the first federal effort to address air pollution problems associated with hydraulic fracturing. They will require drillers to capture toxic and smog-forming pollutants, along with methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, before they escape into the air.

James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, immediately denounced the rules as one more administration effort to regulate gas production ''out of existence.'' This followed Mitt Romney's absurd charge that President Obama was determined to use environmental regulations to ''slow down the development of our own resources.'' The new rules would do nothing of the sort -- even the American Petroleum Institute said it could live with them.

Roughly 13,000 wells are ''fractured'' each year. The rules would require drillers to undertake so-called green completions, in which gases emerging at the wellhead are captured and stored in trailer-mounted tanks and routed back into pipelines. Colorado and Wyoming already require green completions. And several major producers are making money by recapturing gas and reselling it, which more than offsets the costs of the new equipment.

Obama has repeatedly said that he favors robust exploration for natural gas, in part because it is plentiful and cheap and in part because it produces only about half the greenhouse gas emissions that coal does.

There are still legitimate concerns about hydrofracturing's potential impact on water supplies -- an EPA study is due next year. But the rules should ease concerns about the process's effect on air pollution and global warming. Far from presenting new obstacles to drilling, the rules could win supporters for hydrofracturing.

(April 20)
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 23, 2012
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