Thursday, August 18, 2016

EPA panel says agency's 2015 report on effects of fracking on drinking water was inconsistent

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to revise its June 2015 study that said no evidence exists that horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations cause widespread damage to drinking-water supplies, said a report from the Science Advisory Board, an EPA panel that conducted a yearlong analysis of the study's results. "The panel said the report's core findings 'that seek to draw national-level conclusions regarding the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources' were 'inconsistent with the observations, data and levels of uncertainty' detailed in the study," reports Neela Banerjee of InsideClimate News.

Of particular concern, the panel said, "was the report's overarching conclusion that fracking has not led to 'widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States'," Banerjee reports. "The panel said that EPA did not provide quantitative evidence to support the conclusion." The panel wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: "SAB recommends that the EPA revise the major statements of findings in the executive summary and elsewhere in the final assessment report to clearly link these statements to evidence provided in the body of the final assessment report."

Environmentalists welcomed the panel's report, saying they hoped it would lead to changes in the original report's conclusions, Banerjee writes. Industry group Energy in Depth responded by maintaining "that the draft study's topline claims on fracking's water pollution stand." Industry groups had seized upon the 2015 report "to back its contention that fracking does not pose a threat to water," Banerjee reports.

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