The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will assess seven shale gas sites this summer as part of a study Congress mandated to review the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, the agency said June 23.
The EPA expects a first report of the results by the end of 2012, said agency press officer Catherine Milbourn.
Other portions of the work will be long-term projects that will be completed at a later date.
Additional reports will be published in 2014, Milbourn said.
Three of the sites under review are located in the Marcellus Shale region, one of the largest shale gas fields in the world.
The EPA selected the sites based on input from stakeholders, including state and local governments and environmental organization.
The studies will be broken into two study groups. One group will include a portion of the Haynesville Shale deposit in DeSoto Parish, La., and Marcellus Shale in Washington County, Pa. In this group the EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well.
The EPA will focus on the potential impact on drinking-water resources in the second group, which includes the Bakken Shale in Kildeer and Dunn counties, N.D.; Barnett Shale in Wise and Denton counties, Texas; two separate Pennsylvania sites in the Marcellus Shale; and Raton Basin in Las Animas County, Colo.