EPA official hopeful on gas drilling study

A top official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is optimistic that a nationwide project examining natural gas hydraulic fracturing and potential drinking water impacts will provide comprehensive guidelines to help scientists and the public identify the key issues to focus on. But the industry said past studies have already shown the process is safe.
Associated Press
Nov 11, 2012


Glenn Paulson, the EPA's science advisor, said Friday that a progress report on the study — mandated by Congress in 2010 — should be released before the end of the year, and a final report in 2014. He spoke at a University of Pittsburgh conference on health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Paulson said the study of fracking and drinking water "is one of the most aggressive public outreach programs in EPA history." He said the progress report will show the "range and depth" of what EPA is looking at, and will be open to public comment.

"It will really be a lot for experts to chew on in their particular fields," Paulson said, noting that EPA is reaching out to geologists, academic experts, the industry, environmental groups, and even Indian tribes.

"I think the drinking water study is going to be useful to local governments, and state governments, too," Paulson said. He added that "a lot of people have their minds made up" about fracking, even though many aspects of research are still in the early stages.

Paulson said the Obama administration is providing enough support to study the issue. The EPA says in the project overview that natural gas "plays a key role in our nation's clean energy future" but that serious concerns have been raised about potential impacts to the environment and human health.

The fracking process has made it possible to tap into deep reserves of oil and gas. Large volumes of water, along with sand and hazardous chemicals, are injected underground to break rock apart and free the oil and gas. Contaminated wastewater from the process can leak from faulty well casings into aquifers, but it's often difficult to trace underground sources of pollution. Some studies also have shown air quality problems around gas wells, while others have indicated no problems.

Dan Alfaro, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, an industry group, said it believes the EPA study will show that gas drilling and fracking are safe.

"There have been numerous studies and a multitude of research on oil and natural gas extraction methods," Alfaro said. The EPA study "will confirm once again previous findings that current industry practices used in development are safe, responsible and effective means of extracting and producing our natural energy resources."

Environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn't been enough research on fracking. The industry and many federal and state officials say the practice is safe when done properly, and many rules on air pollution and disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking are being strengthened.

In Pennsylvania, the EPA study is focusing on water quality and quantity issues in Washington, Bradford and Susquehanna counties.




Perhaps past studies have said that however new studies show aquifer and well contamination and earthquakes as a direct consequence.


The earthquakes and water contamination seem to be correlated with waste injection sites. Injecting the chemically-laced hydraulic fracturing fluid seems to be less expensive than treating the water.


Make haste....slowly......


Canada has been drilling oil and nat gas wells in and around Lake Erie since the 1950s.

Currently they have over 400 in operation.

What has been their experience in environmental hazzards?


Good to know that Ohio is wealthy enough that it doesn't need the jobs or tax revenue.


We have discussed your preoccupation with what is going on in Canada. Yet, you continue to make unsubstantiated remarks about what they are doing. They are drilling horizontal shafts from shore, not platform drilling. Nobody thus far has suggested that we should not drill for natural gas, so why the negative comment about Ohioans?


@ eriemom:

You might want to have clicked on the link provided before responding.

Ya might wanna read the article too. Fracking involves both oil and nat gas.


I will repeat what I have told you in the past, only type more slowly this time. Nobody, including Canada, is using the process known as fracking in Lake Erie. Canadian companies have been drilling for natural gas on the Canadian side for many years. They are not drilling for oil from platforms in Lake Erie. They are drilling horizontally, from shore, for oil. It is just as illegal to drill for oil from a platform in Canada as it is here.

Nothing in the article that you linked to states any different.


@ eriemom:

I wrote "...in and around Lake Erie."

"...U.S. utilities and their customers are already using gas from under Lake Erie, but they are buying it from Canadian companies, which have had natural gas drilling rigs in the lake for 95 years."

The MAJOR point which continues to elude you:

OH and the U.S. ain't drillin' for oil or nat gas 'in and around' Lake Erie, Canada is.


Spy's picture

Fracking was invented over 50 years ago, but it was only in 1998 that a patented mixture of chemicals was created to make it economical. People are concerned since it is so new what the long term effects are.

Off shore drilling and fracking are not one in the same. I think off shore drilling can be safe, but I want more studies on fracking.


The EPA has also made it against the law to burn leaves but it's OK to burn a joint in two states. How crazy is our liberal government?


It's called a "controlled burn", donut. :)


"Controlled burn" meaning only two states at this time.


donuts: First of all, the last time I checked, Ohio is not lead by liberals. Please check Ohio Burn laws. There are restrictions about what you can burn and where you can burn it. These restrictions protect as from pyros that want to burn leaves next to our homes.


My favorite EPA nut job story is the mandate for refiners to buy non-existent cellulosic ethanol or be fined.


Maybe the EPA should start regulating gravity?

The Big Dog's back

Maybe they should start regulating right wingers, they are hazardous to our health.


@ Contango/Smith
'We'll fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years."
(George W. Bush, 2006 State of the Union address)

Years before the Obama Administration dumped $70 billion into solar and wind energy and battery operated cars, and long before anyone heard of Solyndra, President Bush launched his own version of a green energy revolution. The future he saw was biofuels. In addition to showering billions of dollars on corn ethanol, Mr. Bush assured the nation that by 2012 cars and trucks could be powered by cellulosic fuels from switch grass and other plant life.(WSJ)

The EPA is tasked with enforcing legislation.


@ eriemom:

So your answer is: It's Bush's fault? LMAO!!!


"My favorite EPA nut job story"

No, not blaming anyone. Just helping you to define what a nut job is, and educating you about the function of the EPA. To reiterate: The EPA does not make law. They just enforce them.


Eriemom 5.%%%%%%%%ontango 0.