Following Casey Urging, Impact Study of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Moves Ahead

Study Will Look at Sites in Washington, Susquehanna and Bradford Counties for Impact on Drinking Water

We Must Get this Right, We Can’t Afford to Lose our Chance to Fuel the Economy and Create Jobs

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, today released the following statement in response to the EPA’s announcement of a final plan to study fracking:

“This study will go a long way to reassure residents and establish safe practices that will help the industry expand and produce jobs,” said Senator Casey. “There is no doubt that natural gas drilling offers Pennsylvania a critical opportunity to fuel its economy and create jobs.  It is imperative that we get this right so that we don’t jeopardize our chances for an economic boom.”


EPA previously identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. Two of the seven sites were selected as prospective case studies where EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well.  These areas are located in:

Haynesville Shale - DeSoto Parish, La.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.

Five retrospective case studies were selected and will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred for any impact on drinking water resources. These are located in:

Bakken Shale - Kildeer, and Dunn Counties, N.D.
Barnett Shale - Wise and Denton Counties, Texas
Marcellus Shale - Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, Pa.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.
Raton Basin - Las Animas County, Colo.

Earlier this year, Senator Casey sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that the agency assess hydraulic fracturing’s potential impact on drinking water by looking at the full lifecycle of a well.

A copy of Senator Casey’s letter to Administrator Jackson is below:

February 22, 2011

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I am very pleased to see that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its draft plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water for review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board.   This is a critical step in EPA moving forward with the actual study that will help to answer the many questions about the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. 

The full water lifecycle approach that EPA will take in conducting the study is to be commended.  It is vitally important that we understand the potential impacts on drinking water resources from water acquisition through the management, treatment and reuse of flowback water. 

I further applaud EPA’s plan to use both retrospective and prospective case studies in its assessment of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.  I understand that as many as nine locations in Pennsylvania are being considered for inclusion in the case studies.  Natural gas drilling is suspected as a cause in the contamination of drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania.  There have been spills of drilling fluids in several parts of the state.  And more recently, residents of several small towns in southwestern Pennsylvania have complained about health effects due to exposure to hydraulic fracturing.

With these incidents in mind, I would urge the EPA to select multiple locations in Pennsylvania for both its retrospective and prospective case studies.  And given that the Marcellus Shale covers a significant portion of the state and that over 2,600 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania to date, I would further ask that the case studies be representative of the various regions of Pennsylvania in which hydraulic fracturing is occurring or will occur.

I look forward to hearing your response to this request. 


Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator