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Over 200 Groups Urge EPA To Revise Study On Fracking, Drinking Water

More than 200 environmental and advocacy groups in a letter Monday asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise last year’s findings that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has not had “widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water.

The letter cites a recent review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) that took issue with the way EPA summarized its findings in the landmark 2015 study (see Shale Daily, Aug. 12).

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Monday, the groups criticized what they called a “problematic and scientifically unsupported top finding,” lamenting that “news media quickly relayed this wholly inaccurate statement about the findings of the...study, much to the delight of the oil and gas industry…”

The groups asked EPA to revise its study to more clearly define what it meant by “widespread” and “systemic,” to “place more emphasis on the significance of local impacts” and to more thoroughly explain “the impediments to arriving at quantitative estimates for the frequencies and severities of the impacts already occurring.

“The agency should use the instances of contamination it has documented in the draft assessment to fully explain all sources of data gaps and uncertainties, as well as outline steps that could be taken to fill these gaps and reduce uncertainties,” they wrote.

“By dismissing fracking’s impacts on drinking water resources as not ‘widespread, systemic,’ the EPA seriously misrepresented the findings of its underlying study. This has done the public a disservice...We expect, given the SAB’s firm recommendations, that the agency’s final assessment will be clear about where thorough scientific analysis ends and any political considerations begin.”

Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for Energy In Depth, a research and education program from the Independent Petroleum Association of America, called Monday’s letter “wishful thinking from anti-fracking groups.

“After studying EPA’s groundwater report for months, the Science Advisory Board did not ask EPA to change its topline finding that hydraulic fracturing has ‘not led to widespread, systemic impacts’ on drinking water sources,” Brown said.

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