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EPA Assembles Scientific Panel to Review Fracking Safety Data

Apr 9, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the creation of a panel that will review a draft of a report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on drinking water supplies.

According to a release from the EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB), the agency is convening a 31-member panel to peer review the data it plans to release at the end of 2014 on the impact of fracking drilling on drinking water resources. The EPA says the SAB will provide scientific feedback on the data the agency has already collected.

First among the SAB’s duties will be to hold public meetings on May 7 and May 8 of this year to give feedback on the progress report the EPA released at the end of last year. The EPA said in a recent release that it "will ask the SAB panel, when convened, to specifically seek input from science practitioners in the field on new and emerging technology and practice. This step, together with previous public comment opportunities and the technical roundtables and workshops convened by the EPA to provide input on the study, will further assure that the EPA’s research and the peer-review process are informed by and incorporate the most up-to-date scientific and technical information."

As we've been reporting, fracking drilling for natural gas among underground shale formations has created a nationwide controversy, with many arguing that the process is dangerous and causes myriad forms of pollution, including contaminating drinking water and air nearest to active fracking sites.

Fracking employs the use of a drill, hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water, sand, a mixture of hundreds of chemicals that are ushered through an underground horizontal well until it all reaches shale formations below the surface. The drilling mix blasts apart the rock and releases natural gas.

Problems with the fracking process have been widespread and there have been strong efforts to block drilling in areas where it is most prevalent. People living closest to active fracking wells have argued – despite industry contention – that fracking has contaminated  their drinking water, the groundwater, and air near their homes. Some people have even been forced to find alternative sources of fresh water because they blame fracking for poisoning their private wells with chemicals and other contaminants used or produced during the process, according to our previous reports.

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