A landmark study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that concluded fracking causes no widespread harm to drinking water is coming under fire — this time, from the agency’s own science advisers.
The EPA’s preliminary findings released in June were seen as a vindication of the method used to unlock oil and gas from dense underground rock. A repudiation of the results could reignite the debate over the need for more regulation.
Members of the EPA Science Advisory Board, which reviews major studies by the agency, says the main conclusion — that there’s no evidence fracking has led to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water” — requires clarification, David Dzombak, a Carnegie Mellon University environmental engineering professor leading the review, said in an e-mail. The panel Dzombak heads will release its initial recommendations later this month.
“Major findings are ambiguous or are inconsistent with the observations/data presented in the body of the report,” the 31 scientists on the panel said in December, in a response to the study.
The scientific panel’s recommendations aren’t binding and the EPA is not required to change its findings to accommodate them. But they already are raising questions about the most comprehensive assessment yet of a practice that has driven a domestic oil and gas boom but also spawned complaints about water contamination.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency will use comments from the scientists and the public to “evaluate” possible changes to the report.This article can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
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