Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (External Review Draft)
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- Water acquisition – the withdrawal of ground or surface water needed for hydraulic fracturing fluids;
- Chemical mixing – the mixing of water, chemicals, and proppant on the well pad to create the hydraulic fracturing fluid;
- Well injection – the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into the well to fracture the geologic formation;
- Flowback and Produced water – the return of injected fluid and water produced from the formation to the surface, and subsequent transport for reuse, treatment, or disposal; and
- Wastewater treatment and waste disposal – the reuse, treatment and release, or disposal of wastewater generated at the well pad, including produced water.
Hydraulic fracturing in combination with advanced directional drilling techniques has made it possible to economically extract oil and gas from unconventional resources, such as shale, tight formations, and coalbeds. The growth in domestic oil and gas exploration and production made possible by the expanded use of hydraulic fracturing, has raised concerns about its potential for impacts to human health and the environment. Specific concerns have been raised by the public about the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the quality and quantity of drinking water resources.
The U.S. Congress urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. In 2011, the EPA published its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. The research described in the Study Plan began the same year and has resulted in 12 EPA reports and several journal publications. This assessment uses the results from EPA-led research projects and the results of hundreds of other publications to provide a synthesis of the science related to hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources.
|Dec 2012||EPA released a Progress Report in December 2012 outlining what the Agency had done to date, as well as next steps. The Progress report did not provide conclusions or answers to the study questions.|
|Jun 2015||EPA released the draft report to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for public comment and peer review. [SAB FR Notice Jun 4, 2015]|
|Jul 2015||EPA released the supporting database prior to the external peer review meeting. (see downloads)|
|Oct 2015||EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) hosted a public peer review meeting to discuss the draft report. SAB Advisory meeting and report development page.|
|Aug 2016||EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) released their final peer review report.|
|Dec 2016||EPA released the final report, Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States following public comments and peer review.|
|Jan 2017||EPA released the EPA Response to SAB Comments on the Review of the Draft Report.|
This download(s) is distributed solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality guidelines. It has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.
- (180 pp, 1 MB, about PDF)
- Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources (Nov 2011)
- Hydraulic Fracturing Study Fact Sheets
- Compilation of Physicochemical and Toxicological Information About Hydraulic Fracturing-Related Chemicals (Draft Database)
- Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Progress Report (Dec 2012)
- Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report)