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EPA Asks Public to Comment on “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources”

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking for public comment and peer review on the recently released Draft Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (Executive Summary, Full Report, Appendices). As a part of the peer review process, the draft report must be presented to and reviewed by a Research Advisory Panel.

Public meetings and teleconferences will be held by the Science Advisory Board (SAB) with the intention of informing the panel and the public about the EPA findings, reviewing compliance with the SAB’s charge for this research, and collecting questions through a panel discussion. A public review of the agency draft report will be conducted at a face-to-face meeting in October.

The “Draft Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resource” investigates the potential impacts on human health and the environment hydraulic fracturing may have on the quality of drinking water at each stage of the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. The draft estimates 25,000-30,000 new wells were drilled annually between 2011 and 2014. Most of these wells were drilled in Texas; Pennsylvania ranked third in number of wells drilled during the period covered.

Between the years 2000 and 2013, the report estimated 9.4 million people lived within one mile of a hydraulically fractured well. In addition, approximately 6,800 drinking water sources for public water systems were within one mile of at least one hydraulically fractured well between 2000 and 2013.

The report evaluated both above-ground and below-ground mechanisms whereby hydraulic fracturing activities could potentially impact drinking water resources. No evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources was identified in the assessment, although several specific instances where one or more of these mechanisms led to drinking water resource impacts were identified. The relatively small number of cases of identified impacts, when compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells, could reflect the rarity of effects on drinking water. However, the study found that there is frequently insufficient data on the quality of drinking water resources both pre- and post-hydraulic fracturing to accurately determine the true frequency of impacts.

The public teleconferences will be held from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the following dates:

The public face-to-face meeting will be at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. on:

A teleconference line will be made available for those who cannot attend the advisory panel in person.

Comments on the draft advisory assessment are due Aug. 28, 2015 using the e-Government Regulations website. More information, including relevant contacts, can be found by visiting the Federal Register.

 

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