Fracking Reversal from EPA

Thursday, December 22, 2016 @ 11:12 AM gHale

When it comes to fracking, there has been an environmental change of direction.

That is because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a long-awaited report it doesn’t have enough information to make a broad conclusion about widespread threats to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing.

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A government report on the safety of fracking deleted a draft assessment’s conclusion the process has no national “widespread, systemic impact” on drinking water.

Instead, the EPA determined fracking can have an impact on drinking water under certain circumstances, a change in position that drew backlash from the drilling industry.

“There are instances when hyrdofracking has impacted drinking water resources. That’s an important conclusion, an important consideration for moving forward,” said Thomas Burke, a deputy assistant administrator and science adviser at the EPA, on a call with reporters Tuesday.

Burke added, however, when it comes to a “national, systemic conclusion” about the impacts of fracking, “that’s a different question that this study does not have adequate evidence to really make a conclusive, quantified statement.”

The conclusion comes in the EPA’s final review of the data and research into the impact of fracking on drinking water. The agency’s 1,200-page report, released Tuesday, is mandated by Congress and was five years in the making.

Fracking is the process by which high-pressured water and chemicals end up injected into the ground to break apart shale rock and release the oil and gas stored in it.

The process has revolutionized the American oil and gas sector, making the United States the top gas producer in the world. But critics say it threatens the environment and public health.

A draft version of the EPA’s report, released in June 2015, concluded fracking has not “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

But the final report deleted that conclusion. Instead, it said fracking could impact drinking water throughout the drilling process. Authors pointed to water withdrawals in areas with low water supplies, chemical or water spills, the injection of fracking fluids into wells with “inadequate mechanical integrity” and fracking fluids entering the groundwater supply.

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