The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced its final research plan on hydraulic fracturing. At the request of Congress, EPA is working to better understand potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future, and the Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to leverage this vital resource responsibly.
In March 2010, EPA announced its intention to conduct the study 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 (SAB), an independent
panel of scientists, to ensure the agency conducted the 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. To ensure that the study
is complete and results are available to the public in a timely manner, EPA
initiated some activities this summer that were supported by the SAB and
provide a foundation for the full study.
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.