On Monday, March 25, the USEPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) announced that it has formed an independent body of experts to peer-review the agency’s ongoing hydraulic fracturing research.    Specifically, the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel (Panel) will review USEPA’s Congressionally-mandated draft report from its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.  That report is due to be released next year.  Our prior coverage of USEPA’s study (requested by Congressional resolution in 2009 and commenced in 2011) can be found here and here.  Before the report is released, the Panel also will provide scientific feedback on USEPA’s research and hear presentations by outside experts on hydraulic fracturing technologies.

The Panel is comprised of 31 academics and experts, including five representatives from companies and consulting firms, two government employees, and 21 academics/university professors (including some previously employed in industry).  It has at least three experts in each of the following nine areas of expertise:  Petroleum/Natural Gas Engineering; Petroleum/Natural Gas Well Drilling; Hydrology/Hydrogeology; Geology /Geophysics; Groundwater Chemistry/Geochemistry; Toxicology/Biology; Statistics; Civil Engineering; and Waste Water and Drinking Water Treatment.

On May 7-8, 2013, the Panel will meet to provide individual feedback from panel members on the study’s progress report, which USEPA publicly released in late 2012 (executive summary available here).  Public comments can also be provided for the Panel’s consideration.  Later meetings will include presentations to the Panel by experts in fracturing technologies. 

Media coverage of the SAB’s announcement can be found here, here, and here