US EPA's Science Advirsory Board Forms Hydraulic Fracturing Research Panel

March 25, 2013

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the independent Science Advisory Board (SAB), has announced the to review the 2014 draft of results for the Agency's national study on the potential environmental and health effects regarding hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

Directed by Congress, the draft report will focus to continual expansion of safe and environmentally responsible oil and gas production. The panel will feature 31 experts who meet the experience criteria set by SAB, allowing them to review the study on drinking water resources and the potential risks involved with hydraulic fracturing.

The EPA are seeking relevant data regarding hydraulic fracturing in drinking water sources by encouraging scientific input from experts in the field. As of March 2010, the Agency has held public meetings and technical roundtables with stakeholders as well as hosting public webinars and technical workshops.

Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe points out the need for scientific research while utilizing up-to-date data: "Our final report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources must be based on sound science and take into account the latest practices being used by the industry."

The SAB provided a list of 144 potential candidates for public comment. As outlined by 1978's Ethics of Government Act, SAB have screened potential candidates in order to avoid conflicts of interest and provide the appearance of impartiality. The candidate list was then reduced to 31, after SAB reviewed public comments and confidential financial disclosure forms submitted by the panel candidates. Of the 31 panel members, 21 are academics or university professors, while two members are employees. The panel also consists of at least three experts from the following nine fields: Petroleum/Natural Gas Well Drilling, Toxicology/Biology, Statistics, Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Geology/Geophysics, Groundwater Chemistry/Geochemistry, Civil Engineering and Waste Water and Drinking Treatment.

In early May 2013, the panel will meet to provide feedback on the EPA's 2012 progress report on the study. In addition, the Agency is encouraging the public to provide comments and further scientific data for the study, which will be considered in the EPA's 2014 draft reports. The draft reports will process the findings from continual projects by the study with existing scientific literature in order to define the potential health and environmental hazards of hydraulic fracturing for drinking water.

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