AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will use the Barnett Shale area to try out proposed tougher regulations on natural gas drillers.

The rules, meant to limit toxic chemicals released into the air, will take effect April 1 in the 23-county Barnett Shale region of North Texas.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the TCEQ expects to apply the rules to the rest of Texas in early 2012.

TCEQ commissioners voted Wednesday to beef up air emission limits on toxic chemicals associated with natural gas drilling and required producers to do expanded testing of their drilling sites.

Celina Romero of the Texas Pipeline Association told commissioners that testing the rules in one area will allow the agency to make changes if they prove too complicated or burdensome.

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