NORWICH – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to take another look at hydraulic fracturing, the technology used to withdraw natural gas and oil from coalbeds, shale and other geological formations.
In an announcement released last week, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development Dr. Paul T. Anastas said the study, which would be over a two-year period, would be designed “to answer questions about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment.” The EPA is seeking to spend $4 million for the process.
While the technique has been utilized to drill wells throughout the country for more than 60 years, and was found safe after a 2005 EPA study, agency officials hope a new look will answer recent questions about its potential impact.
Environmentalists and some lawmakers are pressing for federal oversight of the process, concerned that the drilling technique is contaminating water suppliers. The process, inject highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals designed to break into fissures of natural gas, has opened new deposits to development, dramatically expanding estimates for domestic production.