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Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing StudyThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) released Federal Register Notices announcing a public meeting and a teleconference where the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel will provide feedback on the Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Progress Report. The public will also have the opportunity to provide comments for the Panel’s consideration.

Information on how to view a webcast of the meeting will be posted on the SAB website prior to the meeting. More information on the Science Advisory Board’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel and its activities is available here.

In addition, EPA’s Federal Register Request for Information to Inform Hydraulic Fracturing Research Related to Drinking Water Resources will be closing on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

TOXMAP: Learn about toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing

The National Library of Medicine’s TOXMAP now provides information on the toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Companies involved in hydraulic fracturing are not currently required to report to the US EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program and so are not represented in TOXMAP. However, TOXMAP provides information on many of the most toxic chemicals used.

TOXMAP is a Geographic Information System (GIS) – like FracTracker’s DataTool – from the Division of Specialized Information Services of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) that uses maps of the United States to help users visually explore data from the US Environmental Protection Agency TRI and Superfund Programs.

Update from US EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing Study

US EPA Proceedings of the Technical Workshops for the Hydraulic Fracturing Study

In its Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Report, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Conference Committee identified the need for a focused study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. EPA scientists, under this Administration and at the direction of Congress, are undertaking a study to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing (HF) on drinking water resources.

The scope of the proposed research includes the full lifespan of water in HF, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced water and its ultimate treatment and disposal.

 

EPA held four technical workshops from February through March 2011 to explore the following focus areas:

The goal of the technical workshops was three-fold:

  1. Inform EPA of the current technology and practices being used in hydraulic fracturing,
  2. Identify research related to the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, and
  3. Provide an opportunity for EPA scientists to interact with technical experts. EPA invited technical experts from the oil and natural gas industry, consulting firms, laboratories, state and federal agencies, and environmental organizations to participate in the workshops.

EPA will use the information presented in these abstracts and presentations to inform research that effectively evaluates the relationship between HF and drinking water.  Learn more»

Groundwater Contamination Debate


The Debate
: Can the process of hydraulically fracturing underground natural gas wells contaminate groundwater?

Industry Position:  There has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing; the process occurs thousands of feet below drinking water aquifers. Therefore, the chemicals used in the fracturing process pose no threat to drinking water.

Opposition Position:  It can and has contributed to pollution of underground drinking water sources.

The Data:  Previous lawsuits from landowners were settled by the industry and the data kept private for various litigation reasons. A U.S. EPA report now indicates that hydraulic fracturing has been linked to at least one case of drinking water contamination in West Virginia in 1987 and could feasibly contribute to future problems.

Future Obligations:  Some improved regulations and protections have been put in place since 1987, but the risk still exists if natural gas drilling is done hastily or if abandoned wells exist nearby. Once pollutants are introduced into underground water aquifers they are very difficult to remove, so significant care and review must be taken if drilling is going to continue. The EPA report further supports the need for increased government and industry transparency across the board. It should also be stated that a large-scale health impact assessment is needed to comprehensively determine the risk that the entire natural gas drilling operation poses to public health.


Compiled by: Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Communications Specialist, Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC), Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) department, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH); and Doctoral Student, GSPH