The Environmental Protection Agency has released an outline of planned review of hydraulic fracturing

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From the Associated Press (Michael Rubinkam) via The Durango Herald:

Investigators will try to determine the impact of large-scale water withdrawals, above-ground spills of drilling fluids and the fracturing process itself on water quality and quantity in Colorado and other states where tens of thousands of wells have been drilled in recent years…

The industry has long contended that fracking is safe, but environmentalists and some residents who live near drilling sites say it has poisoned groundwater. The EPA study, mandated by Congress last year, is the agency’s first look at the impact of fracking in shale deposits. EPA will examine drilling sites in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, North Dakota and Texas. The earliest results will be available in 2012…

“The industry has taken the lead in working with state regulators to constantly improve operations, industry practices and guidelines as well as improve communications with local communities,” said Stephanie Meadows, a senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute…

The new EPA study will look at the entire water life cycle of hydraulic fracturing in shale deposits, beginning with the industry’s withdrawal of huge volumes of water from rivers and streams and ending with the treatment and disposal of the tainted wastewater that comes back out of the wells after fracking. Researchers will also study well design and the impact of surface spills of fracking fluids on groundwater.

The EPA has taken steps recently to boost federal regulation of fracking, announcing it will develop national standards for the disposal of the briny, chemical-laced wastewater and proposing for the first time to control air pollution at oil and gas wells, particularly where fracking is used.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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