Monday, February 27, 2012

Key Facts From Today's EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Webinar

The Marcellus and Pennsylvania is in a starring role in the congressionally mandated study of potential impacts on drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. The slides from the webinar will be available at Here are the factual highlights of today's EPA webinar about the study's status and scope:

1. The study is looking at potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water from water acquisition, to chemical mixing, to injection of fluids, to handling of flowback and produced water at surface, and to the treatment and disposal of drilling wastewater.

2. EPA randomly selected 9 drilling companies and asked for data from 394 gas wells drilled by the 9 companies from 2009 to 2010.  The 9 companies cumulatively drilled 25,000 wells in 590 counties across America.

3. There are 5 retrospective case studies looking at claims of water contamination.  Those studies are in North Dakota at a shale oil site; Texas in the Barnett Shale; Colorado at a coalbed methane field; Washington County, Pennsylvania; and Tioga & Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania.

4. Water sampling was conducted from July to November 2011 at the above locations and will be repeated again from March to July 2012.

5. The EPA both through modeling and through actual data is looking at potential of discharges of drilling wastewater to streams from treatment plants to impact drinking water.  The EPA stated it was using data supplied by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Region 3 to perform this analysis.  EPA further stated that this analysis could focus on the Mon and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania.

6. The next update will be in May-June.

7. The first report of the study's results will be sent to the EPA Science Advisory Board in December 2012 for peer review and for public comments.


  1. This is not closely relevant to this post, but I am very curious as to your take on this NYT op-ed:

  2. EPA is developing UIC Class II permitting guidance for hydraulic fracturing activities that use diesel fuels in fracturing fluids.
    The Agency held four technical webinars with specific stakeholder groups. Experts contributed by providing technical knowledge on topics related to operating and regulating underground injection in oil and gas formations, specifically when diesel fuels are used in hydraulic fracturing fluids.

  3. Friedman is catching up to the "news" that America can be energy independent with little effort. He, however, is confused if he thinks that natural gas in the US can be both priced globally and provide a competitive advantage to US manufacturers like DOW or the chemical industry. The US has low-priced gas, because gas here is priced regionally and is not priced in a global market, as oil is. The US now exports some gas and will export some more but moving to a full export or global model becomes inconsistent at some point with having a manufacturing competitive advantage due to low-priced gas. There may be a struggle about gas exports in this country between those who wish to export and those who wish to locate manufacturing here and have natural gas priced based upon North American supply and demand.