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27/12/2015

EPAFindingonFracking'sWaterPollutionDisputedbyItsOwnScientists

PublishedonInsideClimateNews(http://insideclimatenews.org)
Home>EPAFindingonFracking'sWaterPollutionDisputedbyItsOwnScientists

EPAFindingonFracking'sWaterPollutionDisputedbyItsOwnScientists
PanelfindslittlebasisinEPA's1,000pagestudyforclaimthatfrackinghasnotledto'widespread,systemicimpactsondrinkingwater.'
ByNeelaBanerjee,InsideClimateNews
Nov19,2015

AntifrackingactivistsrallyattheU.S.EPAbuildinginWashington,D.C.onOctober10,2014.Theagencyisbeingchallengedbyits
ownsciencepanelforclaimingthatfrackinghasnotledto"towidespread,systemicimpactsondrinkingwaterresourcesintheUnited
States."Credit:AlexWong/GettyImages
AnEnvironmentalProtectionAgencypanelofindependentscientificadvisershaschallengedcoreconclusionsofamajorstudytheagencyissuedin
Junethatminimizedthepotentialriskstodrinkingwaterfromhydraulicfracturing.
Thepanel,knownastheScienceAdvisoryBoard(SAB),particularlycriticizedtheEPA'scentralfindingthatfrackinghasnotledto"towidespread,
systemicimpactsondrinkingwaterresourcesintheUnitedStates."Theoilandgasindustryhasseizedontheconclusiontoarguethatbroad
concernsaboutfracking'simpactondrinkingwaterareoverblown.
TheSAB's30members,fromacademia,industryandfederalagencies,saidthisandotherconclusionsdrawnintheexecutivesummarywere
ambiguousorinconsistent"withtheobservations/datapresentedinthebodyofthereport."
"Ofparticularconcernisthestatementofnowidespread,systemicimpactsondrinkingwaterresources,"theSABwroteinapreliminaryreport.
"Neitherthesystemofinterestnorthedefinitionsofwidespread,systemicorimpactareclearanditisnotclearhowthisstatementreflectsthe
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27/12/2015

EPAFindingonFracking'sWaterPollutionDisputedbyItsOwnScientists

uncertaintiesanddatalimitationsdescribedintheReport'schapters."
ThepanelsaidthattheEPAerredbynotfocusingmoreonthelocalconsequencesofhydraulicfracturing."Potentialimpactsondrinkingwater
resourcesaresitespecific,andtheimportanceoflocalimpactsneedsmoreemphasisintheReport.Whilenationallevelgeneralizationsare
desirable,thesegeneralizationsmustbecautiouslymade...Aconclusionmadeforonesitemaynotapplytoanothersite."
TheEPAalsoshouldhavediscussedinfargreaterdepthitsowninvestigationsintoresidents'complaintsofwatercontaminationinDimock,Pa.,
ParkerCounty,TexasandPavillion,Wyo.,thepanelsaid.Ineachcase,EPAscientistsandconsultantsfoundearlyevidenceofcontaminationbut
theagencyendedtheinvestigationsbeforefurthermonitoringortestingcouldbedone.
TheSAB'sassessmentispartofthepeerreviewofthenearly1,000pagedraftassessmentissuedbytheEPAtoaddresspublicfearsaboutthe
possibleeffectsoffrackingondrinkingwater.
TheSABconductedmeetingsoverseveraldaysinWashington,D.C.inlateOctobertogatherpubliccommentontheEPAdraftstudy.TheSAB's
preliminaryreportfordetailingitsconcernswasreleasedinearlyNovember.Itplanstocontinuediscussionduringafourhourlongteleconference
onDecember3[1].ThepanellackstheauthoritytocompelchangestothereportandcanonlyissuerecommendationstotheEPA.
LaunchedfiveyearsagoatthebehestofCongress,thewaterstudywassupposedtoprovidecriticalinformationabouttheproductionmethod's
safety"sothattheAmericanpeoplecanbeconfidentthattheirdrinkingwaterispureanduncontaminated,"saidatopEPAofficialata2011
hearing.
Butthereportwasdelayedrepeatedly,largelybecausetheEPAfailedtonaildownakeycomponent:theprospective,orbaseline,samplingofwater
before,duringandafterfracking.SuchdatawouldhaveallowedEPAresearcherstogaugewhetherfrackingaffectswaterqualityovertime,andto
providebestindustrypracticesthatprotectdrinkingwater.
EPAhadplannedtoconductsuchresearch,butitseffortswerestymied[2]byoilandgascompanies'unwillingnesstoallowEPAscientiststo
monitortheiractivities,andbyanObamaWhiteHouseunwillingtoexpendpoliticalcapitaltopushtheindustry,anInsideClimateNewsreportfrom
Marchshowed.[2]
Still,theEPAreportdeterminedforthefirsttime[3]thatfrackinghadfouleddrinkingwater.ThefindingwasanotablereversalfortheObama
administration,which,likeitspredecessors,hadlonginsistedthatfrackingdidnotposeathreattodrinkingwater.
TheEPAreportconfirmedthattherewere"specificinstances"whenfracking"ledtoimpactsondrinkingwaterresources,includingcontamination
ofdrinkingwaterwells."
TheSABplanstoissueitsdraftrecommendationsinJanuary2016andthefinalreportinlatespring,accordingtoDavidDzombak,thepanel's
chairmanandheadofthedepartmentofcivilandenvironmentalengineeringatCarnegieMellonUniversity.WhiletheEPAisnotobligatedtoact
ontheSAB'srecommendations,Dzombaksaid,theagency'sofficeusuallysendsaletterofresponse.
InsideClimateNews
SourceURL:http://insideclimatenews.org/news/19112015/frackingwaterpollutionepastudynaturalgasdrilling
Links
[1]http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR20151110/pdf/201528663.pdf
[2]http://insideclimatenews.org/news/02032015/canfrackingpollutedrinkingwaterdontaskepahydraulicfracturingobamachesapeakeenergy
[3]http://insideclimatenews.org/news/05062015/frackinghascontaminateddrinkingwaterepanowconcludes

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