EPA’s Fracking Study Draws Criticism from the Public
Throughout its assessment, the EPA is clear that “data limitations and uncertainties” prevented researchers from making definitive conclusions about the impacts on drinking water resources from drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and natural gas.
The study found that fracking operations do impact the quality of drinking water resources, but due to data limitations, a conclusion cannot be made about how frequently these harmful impacts happen. The industry is largely to blame for the shortcomings of the assessment, for how it prevented the EPA from gathering adequate data to conduct its study.
“Concluding that fracking is safe based off a study with such a limited scope is irresponsible,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “How many more people must be poisoned by the oil and gas industry for the EPA to stand up and protect people’s health? It’s time for the agency to do its job and stop letting industry shills intimidate it .”
While the assessment stated “we did not find evidence” of “widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources,” the EPA’s news release changed this statement to say: “Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources” — a subtle but significant difference that led to controversial news coverage that painted a picture of fracking as “safe”.
“What this report really shows is the widespread, systemic collusion between the fracking industry and EPA,” said Drew Hudson, Executive Director at Environmental Action. “It’s time for the EPA and President Obama to come clean on the dangers of fracking.”
Despite the fact that conclusive evidence was limited, the EPA study established numerous harms to drinking water resources from fracking. For example, the EPA found evidence of over 36,000 spills during a period of six years and four months, from January 2006 to April 2012. This amounts to about 15 spills every day somewhere in the United States.
“By downplaying its findings of water contamination from fracking, the EPA ultimately provided cover for the fracking industry to continue to poison our drinking water with chemicals linked to a variety of health problems, including breast cancer,” said Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action.“When the EPA finalizes its study, they need to focus on protecting public health—not the fracking industry—by highlighting and condemning drinking water contamination from fracking.”
“The EPA’s report clearly shows that fracking pollution harms our water supplies, but the agency also turned a blind eye to some of the biggest risks of this toxic technique,” said Clare Lakewood of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s bizarre and alarming that the EPA report refused to look at the harm caused by the disposal of toxic fracking waste fluid into unlined pits and underground injection wells. The EPA needs to get serious about the threat of fracking and look at every pathway to water contamination.”