Congress ordered EPA to investigate drinking water and public health impacts on people living near the wells.

DOI to Discuss Public Lands Gas Fracturing

The Nov. 30 event in Washington, D.C., is a discussion with public and industry officials to ensure drilling operations are environmentally safe. EPA, meanwhile, is making progress on its study of fracturing's impact on drinking water and public health.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has scheduled a Nov. 30 forum in Washington, D.C., about natural gas hydraulic fracturing on public lands, giving the department a chance to discuss plans with energy companies, gas drilling companies, state officials, and others as it tries to ensure drilling operations are environmentally safe. EPA, meanwhile, is making progress on its study of fracturing's impact on drinking water and public health.

The DOI event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EST.

EPA asked nine natural gas service companies to provide data about their fracturing (also known as "fracking") processes because Congress ordered the agency to investigate drinking water and public health impacts on people living near the wells. Eight companies supplied data (BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford) but Halliburton did not, so EPA issued a subpoena for it Nov. 9, the agency announced.

The agency sought information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at fracking sites, and the locations of sites where fracking has been conducted. "This scientifically rigorous study will help us understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, a concern that has been raised by Congress and the American people. By sharing information about the chemicals and methods they are using, these companies will help us make a thorough and efficient review of hydraulic fracturing and determine the best path forward," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said when the requests were made.

One of the hottest U.S. zones for fracking, both for drilling activity and government scrutiny, is the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, New York, and some parts of West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. The Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted "Operation FracNET," an inspection blitz of trucks hauling wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites, Oct. 25-27 and reported citations were issued for 1,066 of more than 1,400 trucks inspected. The police agency reported 207 trucks were placed out of service because of safety concerns, 52 drivers were removed from service, and troopers issued 1,057 traffic citations -- the most common problems being unsecured loads and inoperable vehicle lights and lamps.

DEP on Nov.1 began placing oil and gas production and violation data online. Users at search production data by operator, county, or specific well number.

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