Fracking is a controversial oil drilling process used to extract oil from the shale layer buried deep under the earth’s crust. The process has drawn a lot of fire from environmental groups due to polluted water wells and other evidence of environmental pollution in the areas surrounding fracking wells.
One of the less publicized and more easily identified effects of fracking is air contamination. The process of producing gas spews toxic substances, including sulfur dioxide and benzene, a known carcinogen, and other pollutants that form smog. A permanent toxic cloud hangs over the western gas fields, and in July, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed ambitious new air quality regulations for the industry, which has long been exempt from federal regulations regarding pollution. The proposed regulations would mainly reduce VOCs and air toxins known or believed to cause cancer and other major illnesses by 25 to 30%.