Hydraulic Fracturing Debated in House

Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Hydraulic Fracturing Debated in House


The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a May 5 hearing to examine whether additional studies need to be conducted to determine the safety of hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking), a method use to extract natural gas from underground.

The hearing took place in the wake of a natural-gas well eruption and leak, a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stating that hydraulic fracturing can contaminate drinking water with methane, and a report from House Democrats asserting that chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing could contaminate drinking water.

Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), who is opposed to additional government studies, called an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study that is being drafted "yet another example of this administration's desire to stop domestic energy development through regulation."

Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and De velopment, defended the EPA's hydraulic fracturing study: "The study is designed to examine the conditions that may be associated with the potential contamination of drinking water resources and to identify the factors that may lead to human exposure and risks. The scope of the proposed research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the postfracturing stage, including the management of flow back and produced water and its ultimate treatment and disposal. …

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