The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be conducting a research study to investigate the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on water quality and public health.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process that drills vertical and
horizontal cracks underground that help withdraw gas or oil from coalbeds,
shale and other geological formations. While each site is unique, in general,
the process involves vertical and horizontal drilling, taking water from the
ground, injecting fracturing fluids and sands into the formation, and
withdrawing gas and separating and managing the leftover waters.
There are concerns that hydraulic fracturing may impact
ground water and surface water quality in ways that threaten human health and
the environment. To address these concerns and in
response to language inserted into the fiscal year 2010 Appropriations Act, EPA
is re-allocating $1.9 million for this comprehensive, peer-reviewed study for
FY10, and requesting funding for FY11 in the president’s budget proposal.
“Our research will be designed to answer questions about the
potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment,”
says Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and
Development. “The study will be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed
process, with significant stakeholder input.”
EPA is in the very early stages of designing a hydraulic
fracturing research program. To support this initial planning phase and guide
the development of the study plan, the agency is seeking suggestions and comments
from the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB), an independent, external federal
advisory committee. The agency has requested that the Environmental Engineering
Committee (EEC) of the SAB evaluate and provide advice on EPA’s proposed
approach. The agency will use this advice and extensive stakeholder input to
guide the design of the study.
A federal register notice was issued March 18, announcing a
SAB meeting April 7-8.
For more information on hydraulic fracturing, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/uic/wells_hydrofrac.html.
EPA Initiates Hydraulic Fracturing Study
March 18, 2010