Congress has required U.S. EPA to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, to determine whether hydraulic fracturing can impact drinking water resources, and if so, what conditions the impact could cause. In February of this year U.S. EPA created the "Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources," which outlined the steps and process that EPA's scientists will follow in the study. EPA, Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources (Feb. 2011) (available at https://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/hydraulicfracturing/upload/HFStudyPlanDraft. The plan identified proposed research for each stage of the hydraulic fracturing water lifecycle, starting with water acquisition, going through the mixing of chemicals, the actual fracturing process, and ending with the post-fracturing production. The study is expected to include the management of flow-back and produced water and the ultimate treatment and disposal of water.
On June 23, 2011, U.S. EPA announced it has selected seven sites for its case studies of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. These case studies will be further broken down in to prospective case studies and retrospective case studies. The prospective studies will take place in Haynesville Shale – DeSoto Parish, La. and Marcellus Shale – Washington County, Pa. and will evaluate the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of the well. The retrospective case studies will examine whether hydraulic fracturing has impacted drinking water resources and are located in Bakken Shale – Kildeer, and Dunn Counties, N.D.; Barnett Shale – Wise and Denton Counties, Texas; Marcellus Shale – Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, Pa.; Marcellus Shale – Washington County, Pa.; and Raton Basin – Las Animas County, Colo.
For more information go to https://www.epa.gov/hydrualicfracturing
This article was authored by Laura G. Swingle, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author see here.