Earthworks Comments on EPA's Fracking Study

On April 7, Earthworks provided comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board, which is charged with studying the public health and drinking water impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Earthworks is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mineral development, in the United States and worldwide.

Those recommendations include:

  • Studying actual fracking operations. Few, if any, peer-reviewed studies provide actual data regarding the injection of fracking fluids and what happens to it underground.
  • Post-fracking, evaluating area water quality for presences of all constituents used in hydraulic fracturing – not just a subset of ‘carrier' fluids.
  • Preventing anyone with a financial interest in the study's outcome from carrying out or reviewing the study.
  • Analyzing the risk posed to public health and drinking water by shortcomings in current state oversight of hydraulic fracturing.

In testimony before the advisory board, Lauren Pagel, Earthworks' policy director, stated: "Anecdotal evidence abounds that hydraulic fracturing risks public health and drinking water. But thanks to industry stonewalling and prior government malfeasance, no legitimate analysis of this evidence has yet occurred. We hope this study will remedy the situation."

This study is necessary because a 2004 EPA study of roughly the same issue – which was used to justify an exemption for hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act – was widely discredited. Among other shortcomings, EPA didn't test the water near actual fracturing operations, according to the Earthworks' press release.

"EPA's Science Advisory Board will do well to ensure this hydraulic fracturing study uses sound science," said Gwen Lachelt, director of Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project.

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