There are a number of interesting updates regarding U.S. EPA's plan to study the use of hydraulic fracturing in E&P activities:
First, the members of the agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB) were announced earlier this month. See here. You will note, the group is heavy with academics.
Second, U.S. EPA has published a draft of its plan for review by the agency's Science Advisory Board. According to the press release, "The scope of the proposed research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water and its ultimate treatment and disposal."
Among other things, draft plan lists five fundamental questions it intends to explore:
- How might large volume of water withdrawals from ground and surface water impact drinking water resources?
- What are the possible impacts of releases of hydraulic fracturing fluids on drinking water resources?
- What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?
- What are the possible impacts of releases of flowback and produced water on drinking water resources?
- What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewaters on drinking water resources?
The proposed methodology: Use of case studies and hypothetical scenario evaluation approaches. U.S. EPA also plans to collect some field samples, conduct laboratory scale studies and use computer modeling.
For a copy of the draft plan, see here.
U.S. EPA's charge to the SAB can be found here, and a review meeting is planned for March 7-8, 2011 - at which public comments will also be received. For more on the agenda, see here.