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EPA official hopeful on gas drilling study

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012

Dan Alfaro, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, an industry group, said it believes the EPA study will show that gas drilling and fracking are safe.

"There have been numerous studies and a multitude of research on oil and natural gas extraction methods," Alfaro said. The EPA study "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."

Environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn't been enough research on fracking. The industry and many federal and state officials say the practice is safe when done properly and many rules on air pollution and disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking are being strengthened.

Bernard Goldstein, an emeritus professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, said that when the conference began three years ago researchers had very little actual data to present. Now, more and more hard data on air and water quality measurements are being collected and shared at the conference. He also praised Shell Oil Co., which explained the steps its takes to protect the environment and public health.

"I thought the industry presentation by Shell was superb," Goldstein said, adding that Paulson, of the EPA, is "the right kind of person" to make sure that health is included in the research being done on gas drilling.

In Pennsylvania, the EPA study is focusing on water quality and quantity issues in Washington, Bradford and Susquehanna counties. There are also study sites in North Dakota, Texas, and Colorado.