Hydraulic Fracturing Quick Finder
|Background Information||Clean Water Act||Comments|
|Office of Research and Development||Public Meetings||Safe Drinking Water Act|
Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and the process known as hydraulic fracturing (HF) is one way of accessing that vital resource. HF is used by gas producers to stimulate wells and recover natural gas from sources such as coalbeds and shale gas formations. HF is also used for other applications including oil recovery. Over the past few years, several key technical, economic, and energy policy developments have spurred increased use of HF for gas extraction over a wider diversity of geographic regions and geologic formations. It is projected that shale gas will comprise over 20% of the total US gas supply by 2020 PDF (230pp, 2M, About PDF). Along with the expansion of HF, there has been increasing concerns about its potential impacts on drinking water resources, public health, and environmental impacts in the vicinity of these facilities.More information on hydraulic fracturing and the EPA study may be found in the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Study Fact Sheet.
EPA's Current Hydraulic Fracturing Study (2010-2012)
In its Fiscal Year 2010 budget report, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Conference Committee identified the need for a focused study of this topic. EPA agrees with Congress that there are serious concerns from citizens and their representatives about hydraulic fracturing’s potential impact on drinking water, human health and the environment, which demands further study. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) will be conducting a scientific study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. EPA will use information from the study to identify potential risks associated with Hydraulic Fracturing to continue protecting America’s resources and communities.
To develop a study, EPA will be working on a design that clearly articulates the study’s goals and outcomes. To accomplish this, EPA plans to take the following steps:
- Define scope of study
- Identify key research questions
- Evaluate background information, literature, and data relevant to research questions to identify research and information needs
- Develop initial framework for study and criteria for prioritizing research opportunities
- Prioritize research and develop initial study design
- Peer review of initial study design and revise as needed
- Implement study
- Monitor and report progress
- Develop research products: data, models, methods, tools, technologies
- Peer review research products
EPA will consult with experts in the field through peer review, and technical workshops and will engage stakeholders in a dialogue about the study through facilitated meetings in July and August 2010. Click here for more information on these informational public meetings.
Proposed Study Timeline
With input from the July and August meetings, EPA plans to complete the study design by September 2010. ORD expects to initiate the study in January 2011 and have the initial study results available by late 2012.
This website will be used to update the public on study progress, announce meetings, and accept public comments on draft reports associated with the study. Downloadable materials such as fact sheets will also be posted on this website to further explain EPA’s activities.