WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it will develop rules for disposing of wastewater produced from the country's booming shale gas industry after finding that pollutants were entering surface water due to inadequate waste treatment.
The EPA said it would propose rules for shale gas wastewater in 2014, while regulations for the disposal of coalbed methane wastewater would come a year earlier in 2013.
Hydraulic fracturing -- a technique that involves injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to extract hydrocarbons -- has unlocked vast U.S. shale oil and gas reserves.
But the rapid expansion of shale drilling has prompted a public backlash, with landowners near shale gas wells and green groups complaining of its environmental impact.
While some water used in the drilling is recycled, the EPA said a significant amount requires disposal and some of it ends up in treatment plants not equipped to deal with such waste.
The EPA said it has reviewed data that found "elevated levels" of pollutants as a result of improper water disposal.
In light of these findings, the EPA said it will begin gathering data and public input to develop standards that shale gas wastewater would have to meet before going to a treatment facility.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Dale Hudson)