EPA selects sites for hydraulic fracturing case studies

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 23 -- The US Environmental Protection Agency has identified seven sites for case studies as the next step in its congressionally mandated examination of potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies, EPA said on June 23. Field work will begin in some of the selected regions this summer to assure that the agency maintains the study’s timeline, it indicated.

The sites were selected following input from stakeholders including the oil and gas industry, local and state government officials, environmental organizations, and the general public, according to Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s research and development office. “This is about using the best science to do what the American people expect EPA to do—ensure that the health of their communities and families are protected,” he said.

EPA said the studies, which will take place across the country, will be broken into two groups. Two of the sites—in the Haynesville shale in DeSoto Parish, La., and the Marcellus shale, in Washington County, Pa.—were selected as prospective case studies where EPA will monitor key aspects of the fracing process through a well’s life cycle, it said.

Five retrospective case studies will examine where fracing has occurred already in producing shale gas formations, EPA said. Two of these study sites will be in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania in Washington, Bradford, and Susquehanna counties. The other three will be in the Bakken shale (Kildeer and Dunn counties, ND), Barnett shale (Wise and Denton counties, Tex.), and Raton basin (Los Animas County, Colo.).

Information gathered from the case studies will be part of an approach which includes literature review; collection of data from states, producers, and communities; and computer modeling, EPA said. The seven sites were nominated from more than 40, which also were nominated, it noted. The draft study plan and additional information are available online at www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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