You Can’t Trust the EPA on fracking
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finally released their study on how fracking impacts drinking water. You’ll doubtless see headlines repeating the study’s main finding that fracking poses no “widespread” risk to drinking water. But even that summary is a lie, or at least a very misleading falsehood, and we’ll tell you why:
The first, and most important reason not to trust this study on fracking’s impact to drinking water: The EPA is a bunch of fracking liars. In July 2013, an investigative report in the Los Angeles Times revealed that EPA officials in Washington, D.C. chose to close an investigation of polluted drinking water in Pennsylvania despite evidence gathered from EPA investigators based in Philadelphia that found “significant damage to the water quality.” The EPA PowerPoint Presentation was released on DeSmog blog by investigative journalist Steve Horn. EPA fracking investigations were similarly shut down in Pavillion, Wyoming and Parker County, Texas at the same time that the Obama Administration embraced fracked gas as part of their “All of the Above” Energy Policy during the 2012 Presidential election cycle.
Second, the frackers are hiding the pollution, and we know it: Protected by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton loophole, the fracking industry has operated in almost complete secrecy about what chemicals they’re pumping into the ground, and how those chemicals might impact our health. But even without EPA’s help (which they really should have had) researchers and public health experts have discovered an alarming trail of evidence indicating that fracking pollutes our water and harms public health.
- A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found fracking chemicals in nearby drinking water wells.
- Another recent review of peer-reviewed studies determined that 72 percent showed “indication of potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination” due to fracking.
- Duke University researchers found elevated and sometimes dangerous levels of methane in drinking water wells near fracking operations.
Evidence of fracking’s harms isn’t limited to independent scientific studies. State regulators in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Mexico alone have documented more than 1,000 cases of surface and groundwater contamination linked to fracking and other oil and gas development.
Even the EPA itself admits it doesn’t really have the evidence to prove fracking is safe (or dirty) – because their study is largely based on what limited information the fracking industry decided to share with them. As documented in a devastating expose from Inside Climate news, made possible by a FOIA request from Greenpeace: Can Fracking Pollute Drinking Water? Don’t Ask the EPA:
The EPA’s failure to answer the study’s central question partly reflects the agency’s weakness relative to the politically potent fossil fuel industry. The industry balked at the scope of the study and sowed doubts about the EPA’s ability to deliver definitive findings. In addition, concerns about the safety of drinking water conflicted with the Obama administration’s need to spur the economy out of recession while expanding domestic energy production.
So there you have it, despite a slew of independent research that shows there’s a connection between fracking, polluted water, and our health; And despite the fact that data the EPA used was cherry picked by the frackers and insufficient to prove whether fracking pollutes water or not; And despite the fact that the EPA has a proven track record of covering up the fracker’s dirty secrets — the EPA is still saying this report shows no “systemic” connection between fracking and polluted water.
What this report really shows is the ongoing, systemic connection between the fracking industry and EPA. But it’s not too late to tell the EPA and President Obama to change their plan. Click here to tell the EPA and President Obama to come clean on the dangers of fracking.