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EPA panel to probe hydraulic fracturing

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WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection agency has formed a research advisory panel to examine the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe said an independent science advisory board will peer-review a draft report on hydraulic fracturing, known also as fracking.

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"Our final report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources must be based on sound science and take into account the latest practices being used by the industry," he said in a statement.

New technologies used in the extraction of oil and natural gas have led to increases in U.S. production. The government estimates oil and gas production are at historic highs.

Fracking critics, however, have expressed concern over the potential for chemicals used during the process to leach into groundwater.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in January said it was searching for a common sense rule for natural gas fracking.

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said most states have rules that are strong enough, however.

BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley predicted the "shale revolution" in the United States could make the country nearly energy independent by 2030.

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