EPA Releases Draft Assessment on the Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities
shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic
impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important
vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a draft assessment
today on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on
drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the
request of Congress, shows that while hydraulic fracturing activities in
the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread,
systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential
vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.
The assessment follows the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water
acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of
fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater
(including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and
draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities
and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best
to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” said Dr.
Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant
Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “It is the
most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950
sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports,
information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”
review of data sources available to the agency found specific instances
where well integrity and waste water management related to hydraulic
fracturing activities impacted drinking water resources, but they were
small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across
the country. The report provides valuable information about potential
vulnerabilities, some of which are not unique to hydraulic fracturing, to
drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented
vulnerabilities to drinking water resources include:
withdrawals in areas with low water availability;
fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water
cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and
treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;
spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including
flowback and produced water.
released today were nine peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports (www.epa.gov/hfstudy). These reports were a part
of EPA’s overall hydraulic fracturing drinking water study and
contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment. Over 20
peer-reviewed articles or reports were published as part of this study [http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy/published-scientific-papers].
play a primary role in regulating most natural gas and oil development.
EPA’s authority is limited by statutory or regulatory exemptions under
the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act. Where EPA’s exemptions exist, states may
have authority to regulate unconventional oil and gas extraction
activities under their own state laws.
draft assessment benefited from extensive stakeholder engagement conducted
across the country with states, tribes, industry, non-governmental
organizations, the scientific community and the public to ensure that the
draft assessment reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and
utilizes all data and information available to the agency.
study will be finalized after review by the Science Advisory Board and
public review and comment. The Federal Register Notice with information on
the SAB review and how to comment on the draft assessment will be
published on Friday June 5, 2015.
a copy of the study, visit www.epa.gov/hfstudy.
submit comments on the report, see http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr_activites/HF%20Drinking%20Water%20Assessment?OpenDocument