BREAKING: EPA Listens To Science Advisory Board & Confirms Fracking Impacts Drinking Water

December 13, 2016
Contact: Danielle Filson, [email protected], 646-335-0443

BREAKING: EPA Listens To Science Advisory Board & Confirms Fracking Impacts Drinking Water

Alters Controversial Earlier Finding, Acknowledges Science & Research

The EPA today finalized its report on fracking’s impacts to drinking water resources following the EPA Science Advisory Board’s (SAB) review of the EPA’s June 2015 draft study, reversing itself to confirm that fracking has an adverse impact on drinking water. For over a year, a panel of 30 scientists, engineers and industry consultants have reviewed the details of the 1000-page draft report. The panel took particular issue with a finding that seemingly came out of left field: the agency’s statement that fracking has not led to “widespread systemic impacts” in the United States, which did not have clear, scientific basis of support.

After thoroughly reviewing the demands from the EPA Science Advisory Board, comprised of the EPA’s own scientists, the agency released the final report today, heeding their recommendations and clarifying that the agency found contamination at every phase of the fracking process.

The EPA and independent peer-reviewed studies have identified many mechanisms of contamination, such as spills, well cementing failures below ground, and complications with waste disposal. The EPA originally found there was on order of 15 spills every day somewhere in the United States, yet chose to dismiss those daily incidents.

This decision follows concerted outreach from affected individuals, public interest groups, and the EPA SAB, who submitted comments in taking issue with how the agency ignored three high-profile contamination cases in its study – notably Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming. The agency’s omissions were contentious in part because in each case, the EPA prematurely abandoned investigations. The EPA SAB recommended that the agency include detailed summaries of these critical cases, which have now been added.

“The EPA made the correct decision in acting on the recommendations from the EPA SAB and confirming what we have seen firsthand, that fracking for oil and gas damages water supplies in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Karen Feridun of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking. “In Pennsylvania, there have been more than 283 documented cases in which fracking damaged private drinking water supplies and countless others that have yet to be determined by the Department of Environmental Protection, like the dozens of cases in the Woodlands. We also know that fracking operations in Dimock contaminated local water supplies. Pennsylvania has been infiltrated with fracking, and many of the public health reports coming out use Pennsylvanians as subjects. It is now more important than ever that Governor Wolf heed the requests of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and implement a statewide fracking moratorium.”

This is a clear sign from the EPA that it is choosing to prioritize the health and safety of the American people over the political interests of the oil and gas industry. With the pick of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the incoming administration has made it clear that it is willing to sacrifice public health and deny the existence of climate change. We are grateful that the agency has chosen to side with science, research and logic and hope that this is a first step toward a nationwide ban on fracking.”

More than 179,000 signed a petition to EPA Administrator McCarthy, calling on the EPA to retract the draft report’s conclusion and commission an independent, peer-reviewed study on fracking’s impacts on drinking water that is free from industry bias. A March 2016 Gallup poll found that Americans oppose fracking 51-36%, and an October 2016 Yale study that links chemicals that cause cancers, including childhood leukemia, to fracking. The fourth edition of The Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking was recently released in November 2016, bringing together over 900 peer-reviewed findings and studies from the scientific and medical literature, government and industry reporters, and journalistic investigation. It demonstrates a now pervasive body of scientific evidence of risks and harms, health impacts and air, water, and soil contamination, along with climate impacts of fracking.

About Pennsylvanians Against Fracking

Pennsylvanians Against Fracking is a statewide coalition of organizations, institutions, and businesses calling for a halt to fracking in the Commonwealth. Steering Committee member organizations include Berks Gas Truth, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food & Water Watch, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Marcellus Protest, Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, and Thomas Merton Center. Learn more about Pennsylvanians Against Fracking


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