Top officials at the EPA find the fracking study optimistic about the future. The nationwide project examined natural gas hydraulic fracturing and potential drinking water impacts. According to the Huffington Post, the study will help scientists and the public identify the key issue to focus on.

Glenn Paulson, the EPA’s science advisor, said that a progress report on the study should be released before the end of the year, and the final report released in 2014. Paulson said the study of fracking and drinking water “is one of the most aggressive public outreach programs in EPA history.”

“I think the drinking water study is going to be useful to local governments, and state governments, too,” Paulson said. He added that “a lot of people have their minds made up” about fracking, even though many aspects of research are still in the early stages.

The EPA says in the project overview that natural gas “plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future” but that serious concerns have been raised about potential impacts to the environment and human health.

Dan Alfaro, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, 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.”

Bernard Goldstein, retired professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, said that three years ago researcher had very little data. Today, there is an abundance of research. Goldstein even praised Shell Oil Co., for explaining the steps it 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.