A comprehensive government study of the effects of shale-gas drilling on water quality and the environment won’t be completed until 2016, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said this week during an Ohio conference.
Jeanne Briskin, coordinator of hydraulic fracturing research at the EPA, said Tuesday during the conference in Cleveland that the study involves “complex research” and that the agency could have a preliminary report ready late next year, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Congress in 2010 directed the agency to investigate the threat to groundwater and air from the hydraulic fracturing process — also known as fracking — in Ohio and other states.
Critics say it is harmful to the environment, but there have been conflicting studies about the effects.
Briskin said the EPA has sampled water in two drilling counties in Pennsylvania, plus in Colorado, North Dakota and Texas. Nine energy companies and nine drilling-supply companies have cooperated with the EPA research, she said, and 1,000 chemicals have been identified as being used in the drilling process.
Briskin was among the speakers at the conference called “Shale Gas: Promises and Challenges,” staged by the National Academy of Engineering.
The event, organized in part because of Ohio’s role in the Utica shale boom, continued Wednesday.
State officials have said drilling in eastern Ohio nearly doubled the output of oil and natural gas there since 2011, although some industry experts remain cautious about the long-term potential for production.