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A production boom in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (more commonly known as “fracking”) has resulted in shale oil and gas development in regions unaccustomed to the industry as well as in regions that have a century-long relationship with oil and gas extraction. Air quality degradation is a concern in areas where development has increased.

Developing oil and natural gas requires numerous stages – drilling, completion, production, and operation – that have the potential to affect air quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the oil and natural gas industry is the largest industrial source of volatile organic compounds, a group of chemicals that contribute to the creation of smog. Equipment used in the development process, such as glycol dehydrators, is a major source of hazardous air pollutants like methane, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and exlene.

This comparative dataset only examines laws pertaining to air quality for operations and equipment on the well pad site; it does not cover processing, transmission, storage and distribution. It includes statutes and regulations from Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. These states overlay major shale formations such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Greater Green River, Haynesville, Mancos, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian, Piceance, Powder River, San Juan, Uinta, and Woodford. 

To explore statues and regulations pertaining to air quality issues related to oil and gas activities, use the blue “Start here” box below.


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If you have questions, corrections, or additions, please contact Matt Samelson at

Related Resources

LawAtlas Interactive Maps: 
Water Quality:  Permitting, Design, and Construction
Water Quality:  Well Drilling
Water Quality:  Well Completion
Water Quality:  Production and Operation
Water Quality:  Reclamation
Water Quantity:  Quantity

Did you know?

Laws in 10 of 12 states examined here have leak detection and reporting (LDAR) programs related to air pollution sources.

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Map Legend: State Included in research. Not included in research.