Nov 07, 2011

EPA Announces Final Study Plan to Assess Hydraulic Fracturing

At request of Congress, study will evaluate potential impacts on drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final research plan on hydraulic fracturing. The study, which aims to better understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, was first announced in March 2010 in response to a request from Congress. Since then, the agency has held a series of public meetings across the nation to receive input from states, industry, environmental and public health groups, and individual citizens. In addition, the study was reviewed by the Science Advisory Board, an independent panel, to ensure the agency conducted research using a scientifically sound approach.

The initial research results and study findings will be released to the public in 2012. The final report will be delivered in 2014. The final study plan looks at the full cycle of water in hydraulic fracturing, from the acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water as well as its ultimate treatment and disposal. Earlier this year, EPA announced its selection of locations for five retrospective and two prospective case studies.

The study is part of the priorities identified in the president’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future and is consistent with the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recommendations on steps to support the safe development of natural gas resources.