Home / Environmental News / EPA’s Own Scientists Admit to Misleading Public on Fracking Impacts to Drinking Water

EPA’s Own Scientists Admit to Misleading Public on Fracking Impacts to Drinking Water

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Five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was commissioned by Congress to undertake a study on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on drinking water. This newer method of oil and gas extraction involves the pumping of highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations.

Fracking has driven the boom in U.S. oil production and contributed to the steep drop in gasoline prices, but the environmental impacts of this relatively new technique are not well understood.

The EPA’s draft study—released in June to solicit input from advisers and the public—found  that fracking has already contaminated drinking water, stating in the report:

“We found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells…

Approximately 6,800 sources of drinking water for public water systems were located within one mile of at least one hydraulically fractured well … These drinking water sources served more than 8.6 million people year-round in 2013…

Hydraulic fracturing can also affect drinking water resources outside the immediate vicinity of a hydraulically fractured well.”

Despite these findings, and EPA’s own admissions of “data limitations and uncertainties” as well as “the paucity of long-term systemic studies,” the agency stated in its conclusion that “there is no evidence fracking has led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

Industry hacks and their MSM cheerleaders took this line and ran with it, proclaiming that “the science is settled” on fracking and any further concerns are just crazed environmental activists pursuing an agenda.

However, it turns out that the EPA’s own science advisers have repudiated the study’s major conclusion, saying that it is “inconsistent with the observations, data and levels of uncertainty.

Major findings are ambiguous or are inconsistent with the observations/data presented in the body of the report,” the 31-member scientific review board said on Thursday. The panel will have a public teleconference on Feb. 1 before sending its final recommendations to EPA.

The conclusion of the draft report had already drawn suspicion of political tampering. Adding to this is the fact that EPA left out high-profile cases in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming “where hydraulic fracturing activities are perceived by many members of the public to have caused significant local impacts to drinking water sources.”

The EPA draft report also found that failed wells and aboveground spills may have affected drinking water resources. It found evidence of more than 36,000 spills from 2006 to 2012. According to Bloomberg:

“Spill data alone “gives sufficient pause to reconsider the statement” that there’s no evidence of systemic, widespread damage, said panelist Bruce Honeyman, professor emeritus at the Colorado School of Mines.

“It’s important to characterize and discuss the frequency and severity of outliers that have occurred,” said panelist Katherine Bennett Ensor, chairwoman of the Rice University Department of Statistics.

And panel member James Bruckner, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Georgia, said the report glosses over the limited data and studies available to the agency.

“I do not think that the document’s authors have gone far enough to emphasize how preliminary these key conclusions are and how limited the factual bases are for their judgments,” Bruckner said.

Young, the University of California professor who suggested rewriting the top-line conclusion, faulted the document for trying “to draw a global and permanent conclusion about the safety or impacts of hydraulic fracturing at the national level” given the “uncertainties and data limitations described in the report.””

In light of these criticisms, there will be heavy pressure to revise the EPA’s conclusion in the final report, and the oil and gas industry will have major egg on its face.

The fact is, fracking was fast-tracked into use before the environmental impacts could be properly assessed. Public health and environmental quality took a back seat to the profits of an industry that long ago cemented its grip on federal and state governments.

The oil and gas industry tried their hardest, with the help of government agencies, to keep the identity of fracking fluids from becoming public knowledge. But as that information has come out, we are finding that these chemicals pose catastrophic risks to human health, as a study by the Yale School of Public Health points out.

“In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information.

Further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.”

Contamination of drinking water is not the only threat that fracking poses. Oklahoma, which has gone full speed ahead with fracking operations, has seen a 730 percent increase in earthquake activity since 2013. Since the start of the new year, 69 earthquakes have struck, with two registering a magnitude of 4.7 and 4.8.

The state’s own Geological Survey admitted, “we know that the recent rise in earthquakes cannot be entirely attributed to natural causes.” They say the earthquakes are caused by wastewater injection wells, not fracking, but this is dubious considering the tremendous influence of the oil and gas industry in that state.

A report released last year by a group of seismologists, researchers, and oil and gas industry representatives “overwhelming connected hydro fracturing to the surge in earthquakes.

It is past time for government to stop endangering public and environmental health by protecting the fossil fuel industry with bogus conclusions in its risk assessments.

  • Please (Y) + Comment + Share this story if you are tired of the EPA protecting oil and gas companies.

  • How many times are we gonna let the epa lie to us ? Corrupt is the name when the Feds are involved. Maybe a publicly run nonprofit environmental group could step up?

    • If the EPA says something, there’s about qa 98% it’s an outright lie.

      The remaining 2% are things that may be true, which are twisted into logic pretzels, then blown way out of proportion.

    • The EPA is paid off just like congress, senate, and so on. You want them to be like they used to be? Get the money out of politics completely, these shitbag companies shouldn’t be able to do what they want, where they want, how they want without a REAL repercussion. If BP leaks millions upon millions of gallons of oil someplace, it’s right to work there should be revoked. Period, the current CEO should be thrown in prison, and the company should be fined heavily! A mere six figure number to a company that makes billions per year is like pocket change.

      Look at the methane leak in Southern California, it’s been leaking since late Oct. but the company responsible says it won’t have the leak under control until the end of March, and that’s just a possibility that they’ll have it fixed by then.

      It’s time the Government starts representing US the people, and not their rich sponsors who are currently running us straight into the ground!

    • I think we have to be the non profit environmental group..but if you google fracking..you will see what people are doing against it! LOL

  • $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • Clean out the department and hire new people.

    • Only way to keep corruption out is to remove the department altogether.

    • That isn’t true. There are honest people in this world.

  • I don’t drink water so I’m good. If I do it’s boiled.

    • Lmao, you drink water

    • Yea for making tea but I don’t drink water straight it gives me a sore throat that last 3 days to a week.

    • You still drink water.

      And it still has fluoride in it even if you boil it.

    • Well I guess I drink as much water as I do tea plus a brita filter on faucet.

    • It’s you again Justin! I’m gonna have to start following you! Now you don’t drink water?

    • My only other solution of drinking water I also keep one in my car in case something happens. More trustworthy than united states contaminated water source from corporations such as nestle and their water with loose plastic particles from bottles.

    • I don’t boil my water. I prefer it broiled.

    • ^ There ya go. Lolz.

  • I knew it…

  • … and we pay them to lie to us!

  • WE KNOW

  • It’s not like it could cause cancer. Haha!

  • Jason Ganzer

  • I’m sorry is that the government? Not protecting their employers, the people. On Purpose

  • Misleading as in lying???You really don’t think all this bullshit wasn’t premeditated?

  • Why trust government? I have been drinking and cooking with Distilled water for 40+ years. Costs me about 20 cents a gallon with a home distiller. Too easy.

  • But it wastes a shit ton of drinking water for the process doesnt it?? And this is an at best, a 100 year solution after a couple trillion dollars in infastructre change over?

    • They use seawater where I work, and the holes go down 26,000 feet and are encased in three layers of steel and concrete and checked for leakdown using a pressurized outer annulus. It’s the “cowboy” companies that do this damage. The larger companies like Conoco have no vested interest in doing work that would harm their ability to do business in the future.

    • Thats fair

  • Why would anyone believe them in the first place. ?

  • For 45 years & counting.

  • It makes me feel so good knowing that there are morons out there who still have faith in this government..

  • The EPA is a conflicted mess and nobody seems to be held accountable. The truth is coming out.

  • CORPORATE POISONERS ,,

  • So when is someone going to jail?

  • I dunno what exactly they lied about but fracking occurs thousands of feet below fresh water… Along with the fact that geologists locate any and all usable water and it is isolated with cement to ensure nothing can contaminate it!

    • what world do you live in

    • The one I personally work in, I’ve conducted many fracking procedures and never contaminated any water! Now I’m on board with the free thought ideology, not just believing what I’m told and asking difficult questions. However if all you people do is religiously follow a webpage like this, how’s that any different then the sheep who watch Fox News? You must analyze both sides of the story and not just trade one news source out for another. I see the same corruption in some of these sources as I do in the more well known ones…

  • The EPA is paid off, just like every other government entity, they don’t work for us, they are sponsored by lobbyists from every corporation you can imagine. Funny though, remember that video of flaming water, and the people who tried to fight the bullshit of these crooked corporations in southern states, and everybody played it off like it was all false? Hmmm, not looking so unbelievable now, does it?

  • Sooo..Uncommon..

  • Duh!!!

  • And the epa no longer has to get information from outside scientists.

    So I bet a bunch of stuff just will be lies going forward.

  • i can tell you it dose i have seen first hand what it dose

  • We should be demanding that this organization be disbanded due to the fact that they do more harm than good.

  • Was there ever any doubt fracking wasn’t a good idea? Americas Media outlets one and all did the public the biggest disservice they’ve ever done by never bringing up something that had such devastating results, till it was way to late. Leaving the whole country in potential jeopardy every where fracking has occurred. If they’d really covered it with the importance it was due. The EPA would have had more trouble green lighting any Fracking to the point we might not be talking about this now. With that knowledge now known and still it’s not big news Trump is. The Media try to act as if they don’t create news they just report it. The truth is they create news by reporting one story and not reporting another and when they get to the point that they will start reporting on it, and then they’ll act as if no one new anything about it and they’re just getting up to speed so they can tell this new story.

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