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EPA Finally Concludes Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water

(COMMON DREAMS) Nadia Prupis, December 14, 2016 — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed on Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminates drinking water—but claimed a lack of information makes it impossible to determine how widespread the risks are.

In a final report issued Tuesday, Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources, the EPA removed a finding included in a 2015 draft which indicated that fracking did not cause “widespread, systemic” harm. Fossil fuel industry lobbyists had praised that version of the draft—which also received misleading media coverage—claiming it vindicated the controversial drilling method that involves shooting chemical-laden water into shale rock at high pressure to release the gas trapped underneath.

And although Tuesday’s report stops short of making declarative statements about the severity or frequency of the impacts of fracking, environmental advocates say the confirmation that it contaminates water is enough. Green groups had accused the White House of inserting the now-removed clause, noting that President Barack Obama supports fracking as part of his “all of the above” energy policies.

The EPA’s own Science Advisory Board in August demanded a revision of the 2015 report, stating it was “lacking in several critical areas.”

“The EPA has confirmed what we’ve known all along: fracking can and does contaminate drinking water. We are pleased that the agency has acted on the recommendations of its Science Advisory Board and chosen be frank about the inherent harms and hazards of fracking,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the environmental group Food & Water Watch. “Today the Obama administration has rightly prioritized facts and science, and put public health and environmental protection over the profit-driven interests of the oil and gas industry.”

Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, who is on the advisory board of the American Against Fracking coalition, also 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.”

Evidence that fracking contaminates water has been circulating for years, particularly in shale-heavy states like Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh-based independent outlet Public Herald found evidence of water contamination in 2,309 citizen complaints from 17 of 40 shale counties in the state.

Source: EPA Finally Concludes Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community