Five years ago there was a congressional request for the EPA to look into potential concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing and the effect on drinking water supplies. This week, the long awaited findings came in with a highly favorable result for the fracking industry.
While there have been some cases of contamination, the issue is not widespread. In fact, the release on Thursday states that instances where contamination were present were relatively low when compared to the number of fracked wells.
The study looks at more than 950 different technical reports, published studies and other pieces of information from stakeholders.
The EPA identified instances where contamination is more likely, including sites where water withdrawals are made in areas with low water supplies; sites where fracking is conducted in rock formations that contain drinking water resources; wells with inadequate casing and cementing; and in cases where wastewater that has been improperly treated is released into drinking water resources.
Responses to the report have varied widely, with environmental groups arguing that it proves contamination from fracking is happening, and the oil and gas industry claiming that the report illustrates the safety of the procedure.
Much more research still is needed to determine the potential public health concerns related to contamination, but overall….this study seems to lead to the conclusion that it should be fairly minimal based on the findings.
“After more than five years and millions of dollars, the evidence gathered by EPA confirms what the agency has already acknowledged and what the oil and gas industry has known,” said Erik Milito, group director of upstream and industry operations at API. “Hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices.” (Sheppard, 2015)
The report will be sent to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and released for public review and comment before it is finalized.