A new report, produced by Battelle Memorial Institute and funded by the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance, criticizes an EPA study plan that details a proposed agency investigation into the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

The Batelle report calls for greater collaboration between industry and the EPA, and with the EPA’s study potentially informing federal drilling regulations, industry is keen to lend their voice. The report asserts that with the “industry’s extensive experience with production of oil and gas from unconventional reservoirs, its unique expertise in the process of hydraulic fracturing and associated technologies, and its wealth of relevant data and information available to inform this effort, it is a weakness of the study plan… that significant industry collaboration is not envisioned.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups are worried that if industry groups are given greater involvement the study will be a repeat of the 2004 EPA study that concluded that fracturing in coalbed methane formations posed “little or no threat” to aquifers—a conclusion they claimed was the result of pro-industry-bias.

When is collaboration between industry and EPA appropriate, and at what levels? What protocols would facilitate robust EPA/industry collaboration while limiting potential bias?