Americans have been drilling wells for oil and gas for more than a century and a half. Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - has been in use to augment well production for decades.
Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a comprehensive study of fracking. Recently, EPA official George Paulson said a progress report on the study should be released by the end of this year. A final report is due in 2014, he added.
Good. The EPA's progress report should give scientists, the gas and oil industry and those worried about fracking a chance to check the agency's methodology. EPA officials, sometimes accused of bowing to the demands of radical environmentalists rather than basing policy on science, should welcome the oversight.
There indeed are some valid concerns about fracking, primarily involving well casings used to keep chemicals out of groundwater. The EPA study should provide solid, science-based guidance that will safeguard the environment.