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Inside Politics

- - Thursday, July 28, 2011

EPA

Air pollution from gas drilling boom targeted

The federal government is proposing for the first time to control air pollution at oil and gas wells, particularly those drilled using a method called hydraulic fracturing.

The proposal, issued Thursday to meet a court deadline, addresses air pollution problems reported amid a natural gas drilling boom in places such as Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

The regulations will nearly eliminate releases of smog- and soot-forming pollutants from fractured wells, those drilled by injecting sand, water and chemicals underground. New controls on equipment and transmission pipelines will reduce toxic and heat-trapping pollution from drilling sites on land.

The gases escape during drilling, along pipelines and from other equipment.

The EPA says the rules will save companies about $30 million annually.

NEW JERSEY

Governor cites asthma for sudden hospitalization

SOMERVILLE — Gov. Chris Christie was "in charge and at work" in a hospital room Thursday after emergency treatment for asthma, his deputy chief of staff said.

The blunt-talking governor, who some Republicans have been trying to persuade to run for president, was taken to the Somerset Medical Center on Thursday morning after he had difficulty breathing.

Mr. Christie, who uses an inhaler for asthma and is overweight, was headed to a bill signing when he felt ill. The governor was driven to the hospital by his state police security detail out of an "abundance of caution," gubernatorial spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

The 48-year-old politician walked into Somerset Medical Center about 10:30 a.m. and was working from there Thursday afternoon, said Maria Comella, his deputy chief of staff. Mr. Christie's EKG, blood work and chest X-ray were normal, and the governor expected to be discharged from the hospital later Thursday, Ms. Comella said.

In a post on Facebook, Mr. Christie's brother Todd Christie described the problem as an asthma attack.

HOUSE

Bachmann won't answer family questions

Rep. Michele Bachmann on Thursday again refused to answer questions about her family's business and finances, saying that she — and not her husband — was the one seeking the White House.

The Minnesota Republican faced queries about Marcus Bachmann's Christian counseling clinic that attempts to convert gay patients as well as her own beliefs on sexuality during a luncheon at the National Press Club. With her husband sitting nearby, Mrs. Bachmann said she expected scrutiny as a candidate but questions about her family were off-limits.

"I'm running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not running for the presidency. Neither are my children. Neither is our business," she said.

Mrs. Bachmann, who is campaigning hard ahead of next month's debate and straw poll in Iowa, has steadfastly refused to discuss the family's business that has faced criticism from gay rights groups. When asked to describe her beliefs on gay therapy, Mrs. Bachmann said she loved her husband of 32 years and then said her husband was not a campaign issue.

She also faced questions about her opposition to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Washington Post reported this week that its analysis of her loan documents suggests her family used those federally subsidized programs in 2008.

TEXAS

Perry calls default fears overblown

HOUSTON — Predictions of gloom and doom gripping the economy if the federal debt ceiling is not extended are overblown, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday as stocks plunged on fears that gridlocked congressional leaders would allow the U.S. to default on its debts.

"They're not going to shut down the collection of fees and taxes, I'm thinking," Mr. Perry said, responding to a question after a ceremonial bill signing. "There is still going to be revenues flowing in. I think this threat that somehow or another the world's going to come to an end and the threat of we're not going to be able to pay our bills is a bit of a stretch."

Political gridlock has thus far halted legislation to stave off Tuesday's deadline to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Anxiety about the stalemate swept Wall Street on Wednesday and drove the Dow Jones industrial average down almost 200 points. The markets were much calmer at closing Thursday.

On Wednesday, Mr. Perry called the gridlock political theater; a day earlier he had called President Obama's speech addressing the situation condescending.

The Texas governor seems to be moving closer to entering the Republican race for the White House.

From wire dispatches and staff reports