EPA announced on November 3 its final research plan on hydraulic fracturing. The Congressionally directed study will evaluate potential impacts on drinking water resources. In March 2010, EPA announced its intention to conduct the study in response to a request from Congress. Since then, the agency has held a series of public meetings across the nation to receive input from states, industry, environmental and public health groups, and individual citizens.

The initial research results and study findings are to be released to the public in 2012. The final report is to be delivered in 2014. The final study plan looks at the full cycle of water in hydraulic fracturing, from the acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water as well as its ultimate treatment and disposal. Earlier this year, EPA announced its selection of locations for five retrospective and two prospective case studies - our previous post on these locations can be found here.