The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

EPA Must Stand By Fracking Study Facts, Science

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 12, 2016

As an agency that fundamentally bases its work on fact and scientific analysis, EPA needs to follow the facts and the science on the safety of hydraulic fracturing.

More than a year ago, after a five-year, multi-million dollar study on the impacts of fracking on drinking water resources, EPA concluded: “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” The report affirms volumes of scientific data, including more than 950 sources of information, technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.

A move by the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), questioning the draft report’s conclusion, is without basis, because EPA’s work and its findings were and are scientifically sound. API President and CEO Jack Gerard, in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy:

“While the SAB calls for EPA to do more quantitative analysis to support the main conclusion, the Board offered no contrary evidence to refute the statement. API argues that extensive peer reviewed work to substantiate the statement has already been undertaken and shared with the SAB.”

Gerard writes:

“There exists no drinking water contamination in the Marcellus, the Utica, the Barnett, the Permian, the Eagle Ford, the Woodford, the Fayetteville, the Haynesville, the Bakken, the Denver-Julesburg, the Piceance, the Raton, or any other shale formation where oil and gas resources are being developed through hydraulic fracturing. There are no examples of systemic operational issues that result in contamination in any of these formations, let alone many examples of widespread contamination in any formation.”

Industry drills and hydraulically fractures thousands of oil and natural gas wells each year, and there’s no evidence of widespread or systemic contamination of drinking water resources. That’s because industry practices, advanced state programs and federal environmental statutes all work together to ensure that our country’s oil and natural gas resources are developed in an environmentally responsible way.

Although there could well be political pressure on EPA to retreat from the facts and the science on safe hydraulic fracturing that it carefully developed over five years of study, the agency should stand by them. Gerard to McCarthy:

“EPA must recognize there is no reason to back away from its original June 2015 top line finding of no widespread or systemic impacts on drinking water from hydraulic fracturing.”

To learn more, see API’s official comments package on EPA’s study that was submitted last summer, including a technical review report, a groundwater issue paper and other materials. See also remarks during a June 8 conference call with reporters by Erik Milito, API upstream and industry operations group director.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.