On February 8, 2011, the EPA sent a draft copy of its plan for studying the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water to the Science Advisory Board for review and comment. As proposed, EPA’s plan would involve a “cradle to the grave” study of the practice, from the impacts of the withdrawals of water used to fracture a well to the ultimate disposal of the frac water flowback. The agency also plans to examine how water – and wastewater – are managed before and after fracturing occurs and how the industry handles the chemicals that make fracturing possible. As proposed, the EPA plans to undertake two or three “prospective” case studies in various parts of the country where it will follow water from withdrawal to disposal. The agency also proposes to study areas where contamination allegedly linked to hydraulic fracturing has occurred.
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