The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog says limited data and unreliable estimates on air pollution from oil and natural gas production are hindering the agency's efforts to police the drilling boom.

Lester Lefkowitz, Getty Images

In a report Thursday, the EPA inspector general said the data problems could obscure human health risks, generate misinformed regulations on the industry, and incorrect or ineffective ways to reduce pollution.

Under the President Barack Obama the EPA has stepped up regulation of natural gas drilling which has been booming thanks to hydraulic fracturing technology.

Oil and gas production releases toxic and cancer-causing air pollutants, smog-forming gases and methane, a potent greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The industry says hydraulic fracturing is safe when done properly, but environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn't been enough research.

 

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