Earlier this week we told you that Buffalo, New York put a ban on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” and now the EPA has proposed examining every aspect of fracking in what would be the most comprehensive investigation of the drilling technique.
Fracking is used to retrieve natural gas from shale rock and involves injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water to open up trapped gas— the EPA estimates that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water are used annually, which equals the same amount used by 2.5 million people. Aside from wasting water, the other problem is that the process risks polluting drinking water near the wells, poisoning it with dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals.
The EPA investigation will draft a plan on March 7-8, allowing for feedback from the public, after which the study will start immediately and a report should be available by the end of next year, with a full report expected by 2014.
“Our guys are and will continue to be supportive of a study approach that’s based on the science, true to its original intent and scope,” a statement from oil and gas industry group Energy in Depth said. “But at first blush, this document doesn’t appear to definitively say whether it’s an approach EPA will ultimately take.”
Part of the proposal is said to include using two to three case studies in order to follow the process of fracking wells from start to finish. The EPA would also examine three to five areas where drilling has reportedly contaminated water, including sites in Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and North Dakota.