On June 4th, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources to the Science Advisory Board for public comment and peer review.
This draft is aimed at providing “available scientific literature and data to assess the potential for hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas to change the quality or quantity of drinking water resources, and identifies factors affecting the frequency or severity of any potential changes.”
In the draft assessment, EPA concluded that “there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources . . . includ[ing] water withdrawals in times of, or in areas with, low water availability; spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and produced water; fracturing directly into underground drinking water resources; below ground migration of liquids and gases; and inadequate treatment and discharge of wastewater.”
EPA, however, determined that there is no evidence that “these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” Additionally, EPA found that the number of problems “was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.”
As part of their assessment, EPA also released twenty peer-reviewed technical research papers the same day.
Further information on EPA’s study of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas and its potential impact on drinking water resources can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow