U.S EPA Report : Fracking Doesn’t Pose “Widespread, Systemic” Danger to Drinking Water

Climate-6-16-11-color The U.S Environmental Protection Agency today released a long-awaited draft report on the impact of fracking on drinking water supplies. The analysis, which drew on peer-reviewed studies as well as state and federal databases, found that activities associated with fracking do “have the potential to impact drinking water resources.” But it concluded that in the United States, these impacts have been few and far between, and they based this conclusion on the insufficient data that oil and gas companies would permit them to have. The report identifies several possible areas of concern, including: “water withdrawals in times of, or in areas with, low water availability; spills of hydraulic fracturing fluids and produced water; fracturing directly into underground drinking water resources; below ground migration of liquids and gases; and inadequate treatment and discharge of water.” However, the report says, “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” Nor would they, if the oil and gas companies cannot be legally forced to comply with, and offer all co-operation to the EPA investigators. The report attempted to consider not only the hydraulic fracturing action itself, but all of the water-related steps necessary to drill, from acquiring water to disposing of it. Here’s an illustration from the report:

EPA

The report, which the Obama administration had hoped would provide a definitive answer to a core question about the controversial drilling technique, has been five years in the making. During that time, the EPA has faced numerous battles with the oil and gas industry to procure necessary data. Even before the report was released, some scientists voiced skepticism about its findings because of gaps in the data regarding what types of chemicals were present in water supplies prior to fracking activities. As Inside Climate News explains:

For the study’s findings to be definitive, the EPA needed prospective, or baseline, studies. Scientists consider prospective water studies essential because they provide chemical snapshots of water immediately before and after fracking and then for a year or two afterward. This would be the most reliable way to determine whether oil and gas development contaminates surface water and nearby aquifers, and the findings could highlight industry practices that protect water.   In other studies that found toxic chemicals or hydrocarbons in water wells, the industry argued that the substances were present before oil and gas development began. Prospective studies were included in the EPA project’s final plan in 2010 and were still described as a possibility in a December 2012 progress report to Congress. But the EPA couldn’t legally force cooperation by oil and gas companies, almost all of which refused when the agency tried to persuade them. (additional information from @motherjones) chuk-16   A Chukhi Eskimo photographed in Kamchatka

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s