In Pennsylvania, the EPA study is focusing on water quality and quantity issues in Washington, Bradford and Susquehanna counties. The results of the study will help scientists and the public identify key issues to focus on. Past studies have already indicated that fracking is safe; however, this study released by the EPA is going to be very comprehensive.

Glen Paulson, the EPA’s science advisor, said that a progress report should be released by the end of the year, and the final report released in 2014. Paulson recently spoke at a University of Pittsburgh conference on the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock formations. The largest fracking opportunities in the U.S. lie in shale plays, including: Barnett Shale, Texas; Bakken Shale, North Dakota; Haynesville Shale, Louisiana; Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania; Raton Basin, Colorado.

Paulson said the study of fracking and drinking water “is one of the most aggressive public outreach programs in EPA history.”

According to Paulson, the Obama administration is providing enough support to study the issue. The EPA says in the project overview that natural gas “plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future” but that serious concerns have been raised about potential impacts to the environment and human health. Many of those concerns were came from a small fracking community in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Dan Alfaro, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said, “There have been numerous studies and a multitude of research on oil and natural gas extraction methods.” Alfaro believes the EPA study will show that gas drilling and fracking are safe. The EPA study, Alfaro continued, “will confirm once again previous findings that current industry practices used in development are safe, responsible and effective means of extracting and producing our natural energy resources.”