The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has reiterated its call for additional peer-reviewed study of the potential for hydraulic fracturing to contaminate ground water, while also applauding new federal efforts to coordinate relevant research.

“Additional studies, research and monitoring related to the potential for ground water contamination from the installation, hydraulic fracturing, operation, and maintenance of oil and gas wells are needed, given the growing use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing,” says NGWA, drawing from its recent position paper on the subject.

On April 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior announced a formal partnership to “coordinate and align all research associated with development of our nation’s abundant unconventional natural gas and oil resources.” The partnership is consistent with President Obama’s new Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources announced the same day.

“We applaud this effort to bring coordination and focus to the federal government’s energy production-related research to protect groundwater quality, particularly relating to hydraulic fracturing,” says NGWA executive director Kevin McCray. “Sound science is indispensable to responsible policy decisions regarding groundwater, and peer-reviewed study is vital to sound science.”

“The greater use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing technology has the potential to significantly expand natural gas and oil supplies and hold down prices; however, concomitant with this enhanced production is the increased possibility for ground water contamination,” NGWA states.