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December 13, 2016

EPA Backtracks on Fracking: Political Pressure Likely Driving the Flip

  Institute for Policy Innovation

DALLAS – Today the Environmental Protection Agency released a final report that backtracked from the agency’s initial finding that there is no evidence  fracking has had “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.” 

Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) resident scholar Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., said today’s EPA statement clearly shows the agency’s final position on fracking and drinking water has been co-opted by the environmental movement, as many other recent federal agency findings have been, such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both of which were initially greenlighted by the relevant agencies.

Matthews recently warned in The Hill, “If there were any truth to the claim that fracking contaminates water, the EPA’s [2015] study would have found it. Instead what the EPA found since the release of that paper was a lot of pushback from the environmental community.”  Apparently those who were dissatisfied imposed enough political pressure to get the EPA to hedge its findings, said Matthews.

In its 2015 paper, the EPA recognized there were isolated cases, usually a result of human error, in which fracking chemicals affected groundwater.  But it did not find any evidence of widespread or systemic impacts.

In its just-released final version the agency asserts, “EPA found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances.” 

“Key the phrase ‘under some circumstances,’” said Matthews. “The reference to no ‘widespread, systemic impact’ has apparently been removed.”

“We’ve seen this situation again and again under this administration,” said Matthews. “Politics, not the evidence, determine this administration’s findings. The only major water contamination since the EPA’s initial report last year was the King Gold Mine wastewater spill in Colorado—and the EPA caused it.”

Matthews concluded, “It’s time for federal agencies to follow scientific evidence, not the pressure groups. And we expect that President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, will do just that.”


 

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