Jun 27, 2011

EPA Identifies Case Studies for Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Study will help determine effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the next steps in its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study. EPA has identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The sites identified were selected following extensive input from stakeholders, including the public, local and state officials, industry and environmental organizations. To ensure the agency maintains the current timeline for the study, EPA will begin fieldwork in some of the selected regions this summer.

“This is an important part of a process that will use the best science to help us better understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We’ve met with community members, state experts and industry and environmental leaders to choose these case studies. This is about using the best possible science to do what the American people expect the EPA to do—ensure that the health of their communities and families are protected.”

The studies, which will take place in regions across the country, will be broken into two study groups. Two of the seven sites were selected as prospective case studies where EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well. These sites are located in:

• Haynesville Shale - DeSoto Parish, La.; and
• Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.

Five retrospective case studies were selected and will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred for any impact on drinking water resources. These are located in:

• Bakken Shale - Kildeer and Dunn counties, N.D.;
• Barnett Shale - Wise and Denton counties, Texas;
• Marcellus Shale - Bradford and Susquehanna counties, Pa.;
• Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.; and
• Raton Basin - Las Animas County, Colo.

The information gathered from these case studies will be part of an approach that includes literature review, collection of data and information from states, industry and communities, laboratory work and computer modeling. The combination of these materials will allow EPA to do a more comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The study will continue to use the best available science, independent sources of information and will be conducted using a transparent, peer-reviewed process, to better understand any impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.