EPA submits draft fracing study plan to scientific advisory board

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 10 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency submitted its draft study plan on hydraulic fracturing to its scientific advisory board for review.

The proposed research’s scope includes the full life span of water used in fracing, from its acquisition through the mixing with chemicals and actual fracing, to post-fracing management, including flowback and produced or used water management and its ultimate disposal, EPA said.

The federal environmental regulator announced its intention to study hydraulic fracturing in March 2010 after being directed by members of Congress and the Obama administration to do so. It has held a series of public hearings across the country on the matter, a few of which became lively as opponents of the process used to produce natural gas from tight shales raucously demonstrated outside.

The scientific advisory board, a group of independent scientists, plans to review the draft plan March 7-8 and is accepting public comments. The agency said that it will revise the study plan in response to the advisory board’s comments and begin the study promptly. It expects to make initial research results and study findings public by the end of 2012, with an additional report incorporating further research expected in 2014.

US House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) responded to EPA’s Feb. 8 announcement by saying he looks forward to closely reviewing it. “Natural gas is a vital resource, and hydraulic fracturing is a well-established process that is enabling greatly increased production of clean, affordable energy,” he said.

“This production is critical to America’s economic growth, but unfortunately has been the subject of a growing number of uninformed allegations and misleading attacks,” Hall continued. “Accordingly, I will be working to ensure that this congressionally directed study is balanced, appropriately scoped, and, most importantly, driven by sound scientific and risk assessment principles.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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