Lack of partners holds up EPA study on fracking, water wells
The Environmental Protection Agency can't find a partner to help perform a study of shale drilling and drinking water, a year after it said it would take such action, a federal official said Friday in Oakland.
The result is that federal scientists may not be able to do before-and-after testing of shale gas operations in Washington County and other locations.
EPA science adviser Glenn Paulson detailed the problem at the University of Pittsburgh's annual conference on shale drilling's health effects. The agency still is looking for companies to give them access for the study, due in 2014, he told a crowd of more than 150 people.
“I think it's critically important to do the before-and-after test,” said Leonard W. Casson, an environmental engineer at the University of Pittsburgh who does drinking water research. “That way it removes ambiguity and provides the final proof of principle on whether there's an effect or not an effect. That would be a definitive answer to the question.”
Agency officials said in June 2011 they were going to test through the full life cycle of wells at a Range Resources Corp. site in Washington County and at a site in Louisiana. One of those proved technically unsuited for the research and the agency has yet to finalize a deal with the company that was going to give it access to the other, Paulson said after his speech.
He could not remember which was which, said Paulson, who joined the agency in the spring. Lawyers from the agency and the drilling company in question are negotiating and still could reach an agreement, though the agency is looking elsewhere, too, he added.
The work was among 21 research projects Congress ordered in an effort to assess the impacts of the country's natural gas boom on drinking-water supplies. Despite the setback the other projects are on course and Paulson believes they will represent a significant scientific advancement when the agency's final report is finished, he told the crowd.
“This has the promise to be pretty close to definitive on the drinking water/fracturing issue ... as anything else that's going on,” he said during his talk. “We want the science to be rock solid,” he added to reporters later.
Range Resources welcomes such federal research, spokesman Matt Pitzarella said when reached about Paulson's comments. He could not immediately confirm whether the company — which has offices in Cecil and headquarters in Texas — ever had a deal or was working on one for the agency's study.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- NFL could delay punishment
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- LaBar: Hulk Hogan wants to fight Brock Lesnar?
- 6 arrested after brief SWAT standoff in Fineview
- Coral-Graceton cat clinic new group’s latest spay/neuter effort
- Youngwood shelter removes 44 dogs, 9 cats from shuttered Fayette SPCA
- Steelers notebook: Keisel dresses, but doesn’t play
- Drills put police, teachers in danger zone
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- Pirates’ Axford overcame long odds to reach majors