The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final plan for its study of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, specifically on drinking water resources.
In fiscal year 2010, the EPA was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to conduct this study due to escalating public concerns.
The study will assess the potential impacts and identify the factors that affect the frequency and severity of impacts, said the EPA. It will focus on fracking in shale formations but will also include coalbed methane and tight sand reservoirs. Five fundamental questions to be determined by the study are:
Nominated by stakeholders nationwide, the EPA narrowed down the selection to seven cities to be included in the study: five retrospective studies and two prospective studies. The retrospective case study will focus on areas in which reported drinking water contaminations have occurred due to fracking while the EPA will monitor vital aspects of the process at prospective sites.
The five retrospective case studies are located in the Raton Basin for coalbed methane, and the Bakken, Barnett and Marcellus formations for shale.
Prospective case studies will be conducted in the Haynesville Shale in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, and the Marcellus Shale in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
The prospective case studies will help to answer the following secondary research questions:
The EPA will release preliminary results in 2012 and a final report in 2014.
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