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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

Hydraulic Fracturing Study: Progress and Outreach

Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals

Included in EPA's hydraulic fracturing progress report is a list of over 1,000 chemicals associated with hydraulic fracturing processes. EPA researchers curated and reconciled multiple EPA, industry, and public chemical lists to produce this consolidated inventory of unique substances associated with hydraulic fracturing.


A focused scientific study will determine the potential impacts, if any, of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to release natural gas and oil from underground reservoirs. EPA is conducting a focused scientific study to determine potential impacts, if any, of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. This study is looking at the full cycle of water as it is used in hydraulic fracturing.

In December 2012, EPA released its first hydraulic fracturing progress report – Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. The report describes 18 research projects undertaken as part of the study and summarizes the current status of each project. While the progress report outlines work currently underway, it does not draw conclusions about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. A draft report, expected in 2014, will synthesize results and addresses the study’s research questions. This report has been designated a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment, meaning it will receive the highest level of peer review in accordance with EPA’s Peer Review Handbook.

The five stages of the water cycle as related to hydraulic fracturing.

In 2012, EPA announced an enhanced technical engagement and stakeholder outreach effort regarding the hydraulic fracturing study. EPA is taking several steps to meet its stakeholder engagement goals including the following.

  1. Increase technical engagement with the stakeholder community to ensure that EPA has ongoing access to a broad range of expertise and data outside the Agency. Five technical roundtables, held in November 2012, focused on each stage of the water cycle as it pertains to hydraulic fracturing. EPA will host in-depth technical workshops to address specific issues raised during these roundtables in greater detail.
  2. Obtain feedback on projects undertaken as part of the study and ensure that EPA is up-to-date on changes in industry practices and technologies. The Agency is soliciting public involvement in identifying relevant data and scientific literature specific to inform the hydraulic fracturing study. In November 2012, EPA published a Request for Information in the Federal Register.
  3. Improve public understanding of the goals and design of the study. In addition to the organized technical meetings, EPA will seek opportunities (such as association or state organization meetings) to provide informal briefings and updates on the study to a diverse range of stakeholders, including states, non-governmental organizations (NGO), academia and industry. EPA will also increase the frequency of public webinars, hosting them after each technical meeting.

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