EPA submitted its draft study plan on hydraulic fracturing to the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) on February 8, 2011, and is also seeking public comments on the draft plan. EPA announced its intention to conduct the study in March 2010 and to use the best available science; independent sources of information; a transparent, peer-reviewed process; and consultation from others. Since then, EPA has held a series of public meetings across the country and has developed the draft plan. The SAB will review the draft plan March 7-8. According to EPA, stakeholders and the public will have an opportunity to provide comments to the SAB during its review. EPA hopes to complete initial research results and study findings by the end of 2012 and complete an additional report by 2014.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected at high pressure to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. The process creates fractures in formations such as shale rock, allowing natural gas or oil to escape into the well for recovery. The practice has increased and expanded through a wide range of geographic regions and geologic formations over the past few years. See EPA Press Release, February 8, 2011.