Issue Date: February 14, 2011
EPA Prepares To Study Drilling Risks
EPA has submitted its plan for a congressionally mandated study of hydraulic fracturing to its independent Science Advisory Board for review. Agency scientists are studying this method of natural gas drilling “to better understand any potential impacts it may have, including on groundwater,” according to EPA. The study will examine the safety of the hydraulic fracturing technique being used to unlock natural gas from shale nationwide. The process involves injecting mixtures of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressures deep underground to extract gas from shale rock formations. Environmental activists warn that gas can escape out of poorly designed and secured wells, causing risks of explosion and water contamination. And they warn that chemicals used in fracturing can pollute nearby water sources. The process is regulated by state and local governments, but some Democratic lawmakers want to empower EPA to regulate the practice. Study findings are expected to be made public by the end of 2012.
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