The Environmental Protection Agency, in a revision from its earlier draft report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, says in its final study that fracking can impact water supplies “under some circumstances.” The report details the circumstances where water has been impacted and provides guidance on how to avoid water contamination.
When the EPA released its long-awaited draft report on fracking in June 2015, the headline conclusion reported fracking did not cause “widespread systemic impacts” on drinking water. The report was cheered by industry and spurned by environmentalists.
At the time, the agency held a conference call with reporters, where EPA’s science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of the office of research and development, Thomas A. Burke, called the study “the most comprehensive” look at the impacts of fracking on drinking water.
“Based upon available scientific information, we found that hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water sources,” Burke said. “In fact, the number of documented impacts on drinking water resources is relatively low when compared to the number of fractured wells.”
EPA’s own scientific review board criticized that conclusion, however, saying it did not hold up to the science reflected in the body of the report.
This story comes from our content partner StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration between WITF and WHYY covering the fiscal and environmental impact of Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy.