FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13 December 2016
BREAKING: EPA Confirms Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water
EPA Heeds Recommendations of its Science Advisory Board and Acknowledges the Science that Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water
The EPA today finalized its five-year 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 nearly 1,000-page draft report. The panel took particular issue with the draft report’s 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 (SAB), comprised of the EPA’s own scientists, the agency released the final report today confirming that the agency “identified cases of impacts on drinking water at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle.”
The EPA and independent peer-reviewed studies have identified many mechanisms of contamination, such as spills, well integrity failures, well cementing failures below ground, leaks, and complications with waste disposal. The EPA research found there were on order of 15 spills every day somewhere in the United States..
On behalf of the national Americans Against Fracking coalition, Advisory Body member Mark Ruffalo said, “At last the EPA confirms what independent science has overwhelmingly determined for years, that drilling and fracking contaminate drinking water. Across the country, Americans have had their lives turned upside down as fracking has poisoned the water coming out of their faucets and has made their families sick. Now all of our federal and state elected officials need to take action to protect Americans by banning fracking. Water is life.”
This decision follows concerted outreach from affected individuals, public interest groups, and the EPA SAB, who submitted comments that in part took issue with how the agency did not include 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 despite concrete evidence of drilling and fracking-related contamination. The EPA SAB recommended that the agency include detailed summaries of these critical cases. The cases studies were all mentioned in the final report.
Greenpeace researcher Jesse Coleman said, “The EPA’s final report on impacts of fracking on groundwater has concluded what too many Americans already know from personal experience: Fracking has caused lasting harm to drinking water sources throughout the country. The most important findings from this study is that drilling, fracking, and the use of hazardous chemicals necessary to frack have caused groundwater contamination. This puts to rest the widely repeated lie that fracking is ‘safe’ and has never caused drinking water contamination.”
“The EPA has rightly reported that fracking causes water contamination. For all of the Americans living with this tragedy every day, they are finally validated by the federal government,” said Julia Walsh from Frack Action.
“Kudos to President Obama’s EPA for embracing the science about fracking, which clearly demonstrates serious and inherent problems with the practice,” said David Braun, Rootskeeper Director. “The EPA could have bowed to pressure from the oil and gas industry and didn’t, however, now that the EPA has acknowledged the serious inherent problems with fracking, it is incumbent upon the Obama Administration to stand with the thousands of Americans who have had their water poisoned, and protect them from this dangerous practice.”
Earlier this week, a petition with over 179,000 signatures was sent 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 a July 2016 Johns Hopkins Study showed that fracking is linked to increased asthma attacks in Pennsylvania. 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.