COPY-EPA to study drill method behind natural gas boom

Associated Press - March 18, 2010 5:34 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will study potential human health and water quality threats from an oil and natural gas drilling technique that injects massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," has become widespread and unlocked extensive natural gas reserves, but the technique has raised concerns about environmental damage.

EPA said Thursday that its $1.9 million study, expected to be done by 2012, would look at the industry's affect on groundwater, surface water, human health and the environment more generally.

Drillers say the practice is safe, but concerns have mounted that unregulated fracking will taint drinking water, siphon off too much surface, deplete aquifers and produce briny wastewater that can kill fish.

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