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EPA Advisory Board Forms Panel to Peer Review Hydraulic Fracturing

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formed the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel, consisting of an independent body to peer-review the agency’s research on hydraulic fracturing and its potential impact on drinking water resources.

"Serious concerns have been raised by citizens and their representatives about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, human health and the environment,” EPA said on their website. “These concerns demand further study."

The Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel, made up of 31 nationwide academics and experts, was created by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) to review a congressionally ordered 2014 draft report looking at the potential health impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

EPA said it will conduct research using the best available science through independent sources of information, and will conduct the study in consultation with others using a transparent, peer-reviewed process. Furthermore, EPA noted that this study is intended to both provide the data where there is a lack of adequate information and to contribute to resolving scientific uncertainties.

In March 2010, EPA announced that Congress directed the organization to conduct the study. The draft study plan was submitted to EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) for review in March 2011 with a final draft report expected for release for public comment and peer review in late 2014.

"Our final report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources must be based on sound science and take into account the latest practices being used by the industry,” Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in a written statement. “We have worked to ensure that the study process be open and transparent throughout, and the SAB panel is another example of our approach of openness and scientific rigor."

The SAB sought public nominations of nationally and internationally recognized scientists and engineers having experience and expertise related to hydraulic fracturing in an August 2012 Federal Register notice.

SAB is scheduled to convene on May 7 and 8, 2013 to provide feedback from the panel members regarding EPA’s 2012 progress report on the study. The public will also have the opportunity to provide comments for the panel’s consideration, noted EPA.

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