EPA Identifies Case Studies for Hydraulic Fracturing Study

On June 23, EPA announced the seven case study locations that have been chosen to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.  This is EPA’s next step in the process pf conduct its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study.  This field work will be conducted in various regions of the country to include different gas shale, oil shale, and coal bed methane geologic resource formations.  The case study sites were selected based on geographic and geologic diversity, population at risk, site status (planned, active or completed), unique geological or hydrology features, characteristics of water resources, and land use, with input from the public, local and state officials, industry, and environmental organizations.

At two of the seven sites, EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the entire lifecycle of a well.  These sites are in the Haynesville Shale in DeSoto Parish, LA (conducted with Chesapeake Energy) and in the Marcellus Shale in Washington County, PA (conducted with Range Resources).

EPA selected five retrospective case studies that will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has already occurred to study the impact on drinking water resources. These locations are as follows:

  • Bakken Shale – Kildeer and Dunn Counties, ND
  • Barnett Shale – Wise and Denton Counties, TX
  • Marcellus Shale – Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, PA
  • Marcellus Shale – Washington County, PA
  • Raton Basin – Las Animas County, CO.

The completion schedule will be different for each of the seven sites, with the ND site starting next month and the PA site starting by September.  The duration of the studies is expected to take a minimum of one and a half to two years depending on what EPA finds.

The information gathered from these case studies will be part of an approach which includes literature review, collection of data and information from states, industry and communities, laboratory work, and computer modeling.  The combination of these materials will allow a more comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.  The study will continue to use the best available science, independent sources of information, and will be conducted using a transparent, peer-reviewed process, to better understand any impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.

The draft study plan and additional information is available at:  http://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing.