Pennsylvania

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EPA Announces Fracking Study’s Peer Review Panel

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A natural gas drilling operation in Tioga County.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board has named members of the independent panel tasked with reviewing the agency’s draft fracking study.

The federal study won’t be released until 2014, but the agency recently published a progress report. The EPA is examining five stages of hydraulic fracturing, and assessing each step’s risk of contaminating drinking water. That includes everything from where drillers withdraw their water, to what chemicals they mix in, to how fracking fluid is stored on drilling sites. The study will also probe well construction standards and waste disposal methods.

The study includes an extensive look at drilling in Bradford and Washington Counties. The EPA is also looking at spill data from Pennsylvania drilling sites, and using computer models to predict how much water will be withdrawn from the Susquehanna River Basin in the future.

The panel will meet in early May to provide feedback on the progress report. Public comment will taken at those meetings. The EPA says the panel members submitted confidential financial statements, which did not reveal any conflicts of interest that would require waivers. (The EPA can issue a waiver on consultation with the Office of Government Ethics if a candidate’s expertise “outweighs the conflict of interest created by the disqualifying financial interest.”)

The EPA says the group has at least three experts in each of nine areas of expertise including petroleum/natural gas engineering; petroleum/natural gas well drilling; hydrology/hydrogeology; geology/geophysics; groundwater chemistry/geochemistry; toxicology/biology; statistics; civil engineering; and waste water and drinking water treatment.

The 31 members include representatives from several environmental and engineering consulting firms, a pharmaceutical research company, as well as an employee from Talisman Energy, (of Frackosaurus fame). Two are government employees. The rest are from academia. Below is the list of names and their affiliations.

Names/Affiliations of the SAB Panel
Mr. John V. Fontana, Vista GeoScience LLC
Mr. Walter R. Hufford, Talisman Energy USA
Dr. Stephen W. Almond, MeadWestvaco
Dr. E. Scott Bair, Ohio State University 
Dr. Elizabeth Boyer, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Susan L. Brantley, Penn State University
Dr. Peter Bloomfield, North Carolina State University 
Dr. Steven Bohlen, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. James V. Bruckner, University of Georgia 
Dr. Thomas L. Davis, Colorado School of Mines 
Dr. Joseph J. DeGeorge, Merck Research Laboratories 
Dr. Joel Ducoste, North Carolina State University
Dr. Shari Dunn-Norman, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Dr. David Dzombak, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Katherine Bennett Ensor, Rice University 
Dr. Elaine M. Faustman, University of Washington
Dr. Daniel J. Goode, U.S. Geological Survey 
Dr. Abby A. Li, Exponent Inc
Mr. Dean Malouta, Independent Consultant in Oil and Gas Exploration and Development
Dr. Cass T. Miller, University of North Carolina 
Dr. Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte, Purdue University
Dr. Steve Randtke, University of Kansas 
Dr. Joseph Ryan, University of Colorado
Dr. James Saiers, Yale University
Dr. Eric P. Smith, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Dr. Azra N. Tutuncu, Colorado School of Mines
Dr. Paul Westerhoff, Arizona State University 
Dr. Thomas M. Young, University of California, Davis
Dr. Bruce D. Honeyman, Colorado School of Mines
Dr. Richard Jack, Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation 
Dr. Dawn Kaback, AMEC E&I, Inc.

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