US EPA Releases Final Frac Report: Rosebud Alberta drinking water aquifers frac’d, water wells contaminated with gas. EPA’s late edits to 2015 draft frac report downplayed the risks, contradicted the evidence, called “bizarre” & “irresponsible.” Like Alberta regulator official, Steve Wallace, secretly editing “independent” drinking water contamination reports to protect illegal aquifer frac’er Encana?

2016 12 11: MUST WATCH! Public Herald’s Melissa Troutman & Josh Pribanic Presentation on PA DEP & US EPA Cover-up of Drinking Water Contaminated by Frac’ing; Call for criminal investigation at federal & state level

From some really bad reporting on the EPA Final Frac Report by Robert Rapier, December 15, 2016, Forbes:

Of course if you inject fracking fluids directly into an aquifer, you are going to contaminate it. Someone who does this should go to jail. But this isn’t actually done, so it says nothing about the safety of fracking, nor does it demonstrate that fracking contaminates water.

[Robert has a lot of learning to do about the realities of what companies do when they frac and about the cover-ups by regulators, politicians and health authorities after companies frac directly into community used drinking water aquifers]

Robert Rapier is a chemical engineer who works in the energy industry. Robert has over 20 years of international engineering experience in the chemicals, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries, and holds several patents related to his work. He has worked in the areas of oil refining, natural gas production, synthetic fuels, ethanol production, butanol production, and various biomass to energy projects. Robert is the author of Power Plays: Energy Options in the Age of Peak Oil. He is also Chief Investment Strategist for The Energy Strategist at Investing Daily. Robert has appeared on 60 Minutes, The History Channel, CNBC, Business News Network, and PBS, and his energy-themed articles have appeared in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and The Economist.

MAIN REPORT Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report) by US EPA, December 13, 2016, (EPA/600/R-16/236fa) (PDF)  (666 pp, 41 MB, about PDF)

In case the EPA pulls or hides the report after Trump is President and his anti-EPA Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt becomes head of the EPA, the 2016 final report is uploaded here.

This in EPA’s Final 2016 Frac Report:

In one field in Alberta, Canada, there is evidence that fracturing in the same formation as a drinking water resource (in combination with mechanical integrity problems; see Section led to gas migration into water wells (Tilley and Muehlenbachs, 2012). [The reference is on methane and ethane contaminated water wells at Rosebud, and includes other water wells contaminated with gas in Alberta]

9.5.5 Methane in Stray Gas
Chapter 6 discussed stray gas as a potential hazard in areas of hydraulic fracturing activity (Text Box 6-3). Stray gas refers to the phenomenon of natural gas (primarily methane, plus lesser amounts of ethane) migrating into shallow groundwater, into water wells, or to the surface (e.g., cellars, streams, or springs). … Potential pathways for migration of stray gas into aquifers include pathways along production wells with casing and/or cement issues, through naturally existing fractures, through induced fractures, or via a route that is some combination of these pathways.

Although ingestion of methane is not considered to be toxic, it has the potential to pose a physical hazard. Methane can accumulate to explosive levels when allowed to exsolve (degas) from groundwater in closed environments. High concentrations of methane may also displace oxygen and act as an asphyxiant (NIOSH, 2000), potentially causing suffocation, loss of consciousness, or symptoms such as headache and nausea. Methane is not a regulated drinking water contaminant. [How convenient for the oil and gas industry]


2006 Alberta Views Troubled Waters Encana admits it fractured into Rosebud Aquifer at 5-14-22-27-W4M

Alberta Environment Investigator with 20 years experience Kevin Pilger samples Signer’s methane and ethane contaminated drinking water with bare hands (unwashed) at Rosebud in 2006. “Encana admits it fractured into an aquifer at 05-14-27-22W4….” Snap above from Alberta Views Magazine article, October 2006

Encana Shallow CBM Well 05-14-27-22-W4M Slide 57 in 2012 09 22 From Cape Town To Yukon Whitehorse

Encana hydrogeological report (January 2005) schematic showing Encana frac’d Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers. WW = impacted citizen water wells.


Slide from Ernst presentations on Encana’s remedial cement failing, after the company failed trying to stop the fresh water production problems (8,000 litres a day, without the mandatory permit under the Water Act), after the company illegally fractured Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers


Ernst’s tap water after Encana illegally fractured Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers

The Alberta Government’s response to the evidence?

2014 04 18: Alberta Moves to Strike Down Ernst’s Fracking Lawsuit

An Alberta government lawyer argued in court this week that Jessica Ernst’s lawsuit on hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination should be struck down on the grounds that it would open a floodgate of litigation against the province.

“There could be millions or billions of dollars worth of damages,” argued Crown counsel Neil Boyle.


This in EPA’s 2015 Draft Frac Report:

In one field in Alberta, Canada, there is evidence that fracturing in the same formation as a drinking water resource (in combination with well integrity problems; see Section led to gas migration into water wells (Tilley and Muehlenbachs, 2012). However, no information is available on other specific incidents of this type. [This incorrect and dismissive sentence in the draft report has been deleted in the final report. There is specific information about other Alberta aquifers than Rosebud’s that have been frac’d and contaminated. The EPA also changed “well integrity problems” to “mechanical integrity problems” which is also a needed correction.]


December 13, 2016

U.S. EPA Releases Final Report on Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities on Drinking Water Resources 
EPA’s report concludes that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances and identifies factors that influence these impacts

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its scientific report on the impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources, which provides states and others the scientific foundation to better protect drinking water resources in areas where hydraulic fracturing is occurring or being considered. The report, done at the request of Congress, provides scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources in the United States under some circumstances. As part of the report, EPA identified conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe. The report also identifies uncertainties and data gaps. These uncertainties and data gaps limited EPA’s ability to fully assess impacts to drinking water resources both locally and nationally. These final conclusions are based upon review of over 1,200 cited scientific sources; feedback from an independent peer review conducted by EPA’s Science Advisory Board; input from engaged stakeholders; and new research conducted as part of the study.

“The value of high quality science has never been more important in helping to guide decisions around our nation’s fragile water resources. EPA’s assessment provides the scientific foundation for local decision makers, industry, and communities that are looking to protect public health and drinking water resources and make more informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing activities,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This assessment is the most complete compilation to date of national scientific data on the relationship of drinking water resources and hydraulic fracturing.”

The report is organized around activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle and their potential to impact drinking water resources. The stages include: (1) acquiring water to be used for hydraulic fracturing (Water Acquisition), (2) mixing the water with chemical additives to make hydraulic fracturing fluids (Chemical Mixing), (3) injecting hydraulic fracturing fluids into the production well to create and grow fractures in the targeted production zone (Well Injection), (4) collecting the wastewater that returns through the well after injection (Produced Water Handling), and (5) managing the wastewater through disposal or reuse methods (Wastewater Disposal and Reuse).

EPA identified cases of impacts on drinking water at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. Impacts cited in the report generally occurred near hydraulically fractured oil and gas production wells and ranged in severity, from temporary changes in water quality, to contamination that made private drinking water wells unusable.

As part of the report, EPA identified certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe, including:

  • Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
  • Spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
  • Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and
  • Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.

The report provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities to drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts.

Data gaps and uncertainties limited EPA’s ability to fully assess the potential impacts on drinking water resources both locally and nationally. Generally, comprehensive information on the location of activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle is lacking, either because it is not collected, not publicly available, or prohibitively difficult to aggregate. In places where we know activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle have occurred, data that could be used to characterize hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the environment before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing were scarce. Because of these data gaps and uncertainties, as well as others described in the assessment, it was not possible to fully characterize the severity of impacts, nor was it possible to calculate or estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle. 

EPA’s final assessment benefited from extensive stakeholder engagement with states, tribes, industry, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, and the public. This broad engagement helped to ensure that the final assessment report reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and uses all data and information available to the agency. This report advances the science. The understanding of the potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources will continue to improve over time as new information becomes available.

For a copy of the study, visit
June 4, 2015

EPA Releases Draft Assessment on the Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities

Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a draft assessment today on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the request of Congress, shows that while hydraulic fracturing activities  in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water. The assessment follows the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and disposal [].

“EPA’s draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”

EPA’s review of data sources available to the agency found specific instances where well integrity and waste water management related to hydraulic fracturing activities impacted drinking water resources, but they were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country. The report provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities, some of which are not unique to hydraulic fracturing, to drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts.

These vulnerabilities to drinking water resources include:

water withdrawals in areas with low water availability;

hydraulic fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources;

inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids;

inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;

and spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.

Also released today were nine peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports (  These reports were a part of EPA’s overall hydraulic fracturing drinking water study and contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment.   Over 20 peer-reviewed articles or reports were published as part of this study [].

States play a primary role in regulating most natural gas and oil development. EPA’s authority is limited by statutory or regulatory exemptions under the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Where EPA’s exemptions exist, states may have authority to regulate unconventional oil and gas extraction activities under their own state laws.

EPA’s draft assessment benefited from extensive stakeholder engagement conducted across the country with states, tribes, industry, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and the public to ensure that the draft assessment reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and utilizes all data and information available to the agency.

The study will be finalized after review by the Science Advisory Board and public review and comment. The Federal Register Notice with information on the SAB review and how to comment on the draft assessment will be published on Friday June 5, 2015.

For a copy of the study, visit


Greenpeace Responds to EPA’s Final Report on Fracking by Jason Schwartz, December 13, 2016

… In response, Greenpeace spokesperson Jesse Coleman said:

“The report only confirms what too many Americans already know from personal experience: That fracking poisons our water and sickens our communities. The final publication of this report, long delayed, is a significant win for the dedicated people who fought to keep this process honest.”

The report puts to rest the widely repeated lie that fracking is “safe” and has never caused drinking water contamination. The report, which was the target of withering political and corporate interference, is also a reminder of the danger of corporate and political intrusion in the scientific process.

Coleman continued:

“We as a nation need an independent Environmental Protection Agency that can conduct thorough, fact-based science. As anti-science oil-industry lackeys take hold of the EPA and other regulatory bodies, this critical function is in danger. The fight for scientific truth must continue and must be a rallying point for Americans concerned with safety, public health, and the environment.”

As Greenpeace and others have revealed, corporate and political interference kneecapped the EPA’s ability to conduct this study. Corporations that promised to participate in the study backed out at crucial points, essentially sabotaging key sections of research. The draft conclusions of the report were edited for political reasons to downplay the impact of fracking on groundwater. Those edits have since been overturned, but only due to years of protest and participation by impacted communities and science advocates. [Emphasis added]

Science trumps politics, EPA confirms fracking pollutes drinking water by Lauren Pagel, December 13, 2016, Earthworks

“In releasing its final study, Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources, today the Environmental Protection Agency definitively confirmed that hydraulic fracturing pollutes drinking water in multiple ways, including the overly restrictive definition that the oil and gas industry uses.

By listening to its scientists instead of its political advisors, EPA’s fracking study sets an example that we hope, but do not expect, the Trump Administration to follow. But a Scott Pruitt EPA would have to ignore 5 years of scientific study, and years of community impacts, to do otherwise.

Unfortunately for the still suffering citizens of Pavillion, WY, Dimock, PA and Weatherford, TX, their EPA investigations didn’t have advisory boards to publicly remind EPA that science trumps politics.” [Emphasis added]

Confirmed: Fracking Threatens Drinking Water by Clean Water Action, December 13, 2016

“The final Assessment confirms what we’ve known for years: fracking threatens drinking water and EPA must take action to address these threats now. We are glad EPA resisted oil and gas industry spin, followed the science, and delivered the facts.” – John Noel, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator.

Washington, DC – Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized it’s 5 year study on the impacts fracking have on drinking water. Importantly, the final version of the study confirmed the findings of the draft report – there are many cases of confirmed contamination and broader vulnerabilities to drinking water as a result of fracking activities. It also did not include misleading oil and gas industry spin that downplayed the findings in the draft report.

“We’ve known for years that fracking and other oil and gas activities are a threat to drinking water,” said John Noel, Clean Water Action’s National Oil and Gas Campaigns Coordinator. “The final study discards the industry talking points that ignore the fact that fracking has the potential to contaminate water during every step of the process – from water acquisition through disposal.

The final study corrects one of the biggest shortcomings in the draft – it is free of oil industry influence. In the draft version, the executive summary was altered to downplay impacts to drinking water. The accompanying press release was also changed in the final hours and misled readers, the media and the general public about the actual findings of the study and the threats to drinking water.

The last minute additions obscured the rest of the study, which includes over 900 pages detailing known threats from fracking activities and numerous areas of uncertainty where more research is necessary. Clean Water Action applauds EPA for heeding the Science Advisory Board recommendations to remove the political spin from the study. We also urge EPA to continue this research – there are persistent gaps in the data that must be closed in order to get a complete understanding of the full risks posed to drinking water from fracking activities.

“This study puts the science on our side and will allow communities to push back against the attacks we know are coming from the Trump administration,” Noel continued. ” If Scott Pruitt is confirmed as EPA Administrator, the oil and gas industry will be calling the shots. But, thanks to the Obama administration, we have a head start – proof that fracking threatens drinking water. This dangerous and complicated activity needs to be addressed before the industry should be allowed to expand any further.”

EPA Watered Down Key Study of Fracking and Water Contamination by Democracy Now, December 1, 2016

A new investigation by Marketplace and APM Reports has revealed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made last-minute changes to a significant 2015 study about fracking in order to downplay the drilling practice’s threat to U.S. water supplies. Documents obtained by the news outlets show that less than two months before the five-year study’s release, EPA officials added text into the executive summary saying the researchers had not found evidence fracking has “widespread systemic impacts” on drinking water — even though earlier drafts of the report had, in fact, highlighted directly how fracking had contaminated the drinking water in more than two dozen places. EPA officials went on to use that key phrase, claiming a lack of “widespread, systemic impacts” as the top finding in conference calls with reporters as well as in the press release accompanying the study’s publication. [Emphasis added]

MUST LISTEN (about 10 min).

Audio segment includes interviews and information not in the article below.

EPA’s late changes to fracking study downplay risk of drinking water pollution by Scott Tong and Tom Scheck, November 30, 2016, Market Place

Top officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year made critical changes at the eleventh hour to a highly anticipated, five-year scientific study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on the nation’s drinking water. The changes, later criticized by scientists for lacking evidence, played down the risk of pollution that can result from the well-drilling technique known as fracking.

Documents obtained by APM Reports and Marketplace show that in the six weeks before the study’s public release, officials inserted a key phrase into the executive summary that said researchers did not find evidence of “widespread systemic impacts” of fracking by the oil and gas industry on the nation’s drinking water.

Earlier draft versions emphasized more directly that fracking has contaminated drinking water in some places.

[Canadian Regulator Fraud Comparison:

Alberta Environment’s “official” Steve Wallace secretly “edited” the Alberta Research Council’s “independent” reports by Dr. Alexander Blythe just before the government released them, including changing the conclusions.


Slide of the Alberta regulator’s Steve Wallace from Ernst presentation in Montreal, P.Q., November 19, 2016

The documents also show that the news release accompanying the scientific study was changed on June 3, 2015, the day before it was made public. A draft displayed a conclusion that the EPA had identified “potential vulnerabilities” to drinking water. But the final release dated June 4, concluded: “Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.”

In a conference call with reporters about the study on the day it was released, the EPA’s deputy administrator, Tom Burke, highlighted the lack of “widespread, systemic impacts” as the agency’s top finding.


Successive drafts of an EPA news release show that the headline was softened from emphasizing how fracking might leave drinking water vulnerable to pollution to noting that scientists had not found widespread, systemic impacts. In the final release on June 4, 2015, mention of potential vulnerabilities was moved from the headline to the end of the subhead, and the phrase “widespread, systemic impacts” was added. – APM Reports

In fact, scientists had found evidence in some places that fracking activity had polluted drinking water supplies.

In all, the agency identified more than two dozen instances in which hydraulic fracturing had an impact on water resources. The agency also identified hundreds of other spills, many of which reached soil and water.

It’s not clear precisely who inserted or ordered the new phrasing. But emails acquired via the Freedom of Information Act show EPA officials, including press officers, met with key advisers to President Obama to discuss marketing strategy a month before the study’s release. The emails also show EPA public relations people exchanging a flurry of messages between 4 and 11 p.m. on the eve of the study’s release.

The authenticity of the documents — before and after the changes — was confirmed independently by three people with knowledge of the study.

In interviews with 19 people familiar with the research, some characterized the “(no) widespread, systemic” language as a “bizarre conclusion” and “irresponsible.” Others said they were “surprised and disappointed” that top EPA officials used the phrase and said they had no idea it would become the headline until it came out.

The revised summary was quickly embraced by the oil and gas industry, which for nearly a decade had been fighting off [scientists reporting on the many harms caused by frac’ing, poisoned citizens and silencing them with settlements and gag orders, concerned communities saying “No!” and] environmentalists’ attacks and negative news coverage about fracking’s alleged harm to the environment.

Industry representatives cheered the findings, touting them as validation that fracking is safe.

Media organizations big and small highlighted the conclusion in headlines and sound bites. [Just like the lying and contradictory press release accompanying Dr. Chip Groat’s report in 2012] In a 140-character information ecosystem, suddenly the industry had the benefit of government assurance that fracked wells did not pose a significant threat to water supplies.

Those reports won the day, dominating the news cycle despite the EPA report noting that fracking activities, including chemical spills and faulty well construction, did have an impact on drinking water resources.

It’s not unusual for government agency reports to be edited and crafted in a way that provides positive context for a preferred policy. When research is mischaracterized by policy-makers, however, it raises concerns about the politicization of government science. [Like Canadian official Steve Wallace and his secret editing of “independent” water contamination reports, changing them to protect Encana and re-victimize the harmed families.]

“There’s not really a wall between science and politics,” said Dominic DiGiulio, a former EPA scientist. “In my opinion, that statement was put in there to ensure that there would not be blowback from the oil and gas industry.”

The oil and gas industry, along with Republican allies in Congress, has regularly criticized the EPA for investigations into fracking, arguing that state regulators have primary responsibility over the oil and gas sector. Even as it was conducting the broad study, in three instances the EPA withdrew abruptly from investigations into landowner complaints over water contamination related to fracking. [Like Alberta abruptly closing its promised (in writing) “comprehensive” investigations of Encana’s law violations, aquifer fracs and subsequent community-wide drinking water contamination after the regulator’s sampling proved Encana guilty of contaminating the water supply?]

Agency scientists are revising the study, a standard process with all EPA research that involves input from the public and the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, a peer review group that provides scientific advice to the agency.

EPA officials say they hope to release the final version of the $29 million study by the end of the year.

Burke and his boss, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, declined requests for interviews. Asked about the late changes in the news release, Tom Reynolds, who ran the agency’s communications office when the study was released, declined to comment.

The revelations come as Republican President-elect Donald Trump is set to take office on a pledge to abolish the EPA and eliminate regulations on oil and gas activities to boost energy exploration. It might be difficult for Trump to eliminate the agency, but even slight reductions could have a major effect on an agency that already has been hit by budget cuts.

Between 2010 and 2016, the EPA’s budget was reduced $2.1 billion, or 20 percent. There are also 1,902 fewer EPA employees than in 2010.

Congress called for study

The number of hydraulically fractured wells drilled nationwide has jumped from 24,000 in 2000 to 300,000 in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

… Landowners in many states, including Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Wyoming, have complained that their drinking water was contaminated after fracking activity occurred near them.

Concerned about the complaints and potential impacts, Congress in 2009 urged the EPA to study fracking’s impact on drinking water. Supporters of the congressional action cited a 2004 EPA study that said fracking was safe; they claimed the study politicized the science and played down negative findings.

So EPA scientists spent years evaluating scientific reports from academics, industry, non-governmental organizations and government agencies. They took their own water samples, conducted laboratory analysis, did computer modeling of potential contamination, interviewed residents reporting water quality changes and negotiated with oil and gas companies to acquire proprietary well drilling data.

[Corporate Reneging Reality Check:

2010 09 07: EPA Orders Range Resources to Investigate Drinking Water Contamination in Parker County

2013 01 30: Lipsky Methane Contaminated Water Case, Range Resources and EPA changed course after Range protested

2013 02 05: Ed Rendell Intervened For Oil Company to Stop EPA Contamination Case Against Range Resources

2014 01 12: Duke University tests of drinking water in Weatherford show significantly higher levels of methane than testing by Range Resources Ltd., EPA and the state relied on testing by Range

“I don’t understand why they would let the company that was accused of doing the wrongdoing conduct the tests,”

In 2010 the EPA did its own testing in Weatherford and found dangerous levels of methane it termed “an imminent and substantial endangerment” to homeowners. It issued a notice of violation and sued Range soon after. Two years later, the agency settled with an agreement that called for Range to conduct four sets of tests of 20 wells in the area. The results showed minimal levels of methane, except in one well that has been disconnected by the homeowner due to the high gas levels, according to a report by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General released Dec. 24.

The report, requested by a lawmaker who suspected the agency had treated Range too harshly, supported the agency’s original 2010 findings against the driller and questioned the quality and utility of Range’s follow-up tests.

Methane Levels
The inspector general identified “questions” about Range’s testing, including that “EPA did not review or approve Range Resources’ sampling protocol, nor did it review or approve the data collection and analytical methods during the course of the study,” the report said.

Meanwhile, scientists from Duke have found high levels of methane in area wells. Duke provided its data to homeowners and some of the results were passed along to regulators at the EPA and the state. The results from Duke show the water from many homes exceeds the level of 10 milligrams per liter that the U.S. Geological Survey has set as a minimum safety level, a finding at odds with the results from Range. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling in the state, reached the same finding in 2011.

Result Discrepancies
Homeowner Perdue’s case illustrates the discrepancies in the results. Range’s consultants found 4.2 milligrams per liter of methane in her water in a test taken in mid 2012, and 20 milligrams in November 2012. Duke’s tests a month later found a value of 54.7.Perdue said technicians for Range collected samples differently than those for Duke — taking it from a vented holding tank in one instance — and didn’t capture all the dissolved gas found in the well. Separate from questions about the amount of gas present is what caused it to appear. Range says the gas is naturally occurring, and the state so far has agreed.

A consultant hired by the EPA as part of its initial investigation in 2010 concluded that the gas was chemically identical to that being extracted by Range. 

The EPA stood back when I was sued by Range Resources for over $3 million and did nothing about it. Range Resources has accused me of libel and the EPA knows it is not true. 

*** End Corporate Renege Reality Check]

The study was highly anticipated and in the months before its release in June 2015, a draft assessment was shared with top policymaking and public information officials, according to internal emails.

Meetings involved White House advisers Candace Vahlsing and Dan Utech and officials from the Energy and Interior departments. Vahlsing and Utech declined to comment, a White House spokesman said.

White House Assistant Press Secretary Frank Benenati also was involved in the study’s “messaging,” according to the emails. Benenati, now the EPA’s director of communications, didn’t respond to specific questions about his involvement with the study.

A former EPA official involved in the study defended the controversial line about no “widespread systemic impacts,” saying the lack of a definitive conclusion required the agency to give a nuanced view of fracking. “In this area, there’s incomplete information,” said Ken Kopocis, who was the deputy assistant administrator for water at the EPA. “And so scientists will introduce some element of judgment in drawing their conclusions.”

Kopocis also said it’s common for the White House to be involved in meetings discussing major scientific reports because it’s necessary to inform other agencies involved in oil and gas issues.

The EPA report did note a number of instances in which fracking activity, including poorly designed well construction, chemical spills, well blowouts and direct drilling into formations containing water, had a “documented impact” on drinking water. [Including in Rosebud, Alberta!]

The findings included a 2010 chemical spill in Kentucky that killed threatened fish, a well blowout in North Dakota that resulted in chemicals potentially reaching a nearby aquifer and direct drilling into drinking water resources in Wyoming.

The report concluded that 9.4 million people lived within a mile of a hydraulically fractured well between 2000 and 2013.

The agency also reported 457 spills related to fracking in 11 states between 2006 and 2012. In 324 of those cases, the EPA said spills reached soil, surface water or ground water. A spreadsheet of those spills was included in the study.

On the day of the release, when asked to quantify the risks of fracking, Burke demurred. “The study was not, nor was it intended to be, a numerical catalog of all episodes of contamination,” he said.

The examples of documented contamination were overshadowed by the last-minute changes that shifted the tenor of the report.

Some experts in hydraulic fracturing say the late edit exonerated the practice in the public eye.

“It’s not Watergate, but it completely alters the take-home message of the report,” said Rob Jackson, a researcher at Stanford University, who believes hydraulic fracturing can be done safely.

… DiGiulio, after leaving his job as an EPA scientist, joined Jackson in a research project at Stanford that found fracking had a “clear impact” on drinking water in Pavillion, Wy.

The agency had earlier abandoned its research into problems at Pavillion and turned the investigation over to the state. It was one of the three instances in which the EPA withdrew from investigating suspected contamination incidents in the past four years. The others were in Dimock, Pa., and Parker County, Texas. The agency did not include water testing data from those cases in its national study on drinking water.

The EPA’s Science Advisory Board, however, suggested the agency “should include and critically analyze” findings from those three locations. The advisory board also rebuked the EPA’s conclusion of no “widespread systemic impacts.”

Calling the phrase “ambiguous” and inconsistent with the observational data, the advisory board directed the EPA to show the underlying data to back up its claim of no “widespread, systemic impacts”.

“We suggested that they provide a definition of ‘systemic,’ a definition of ‘widespread’ and then provide quantitative data to support the conclusion,” said Peter Thorne, a University of Iowa environmental scientist who chairs the Science Advisory Board. “That is all a way of asking them to put that kind of scientific rigor behind a statement as broad as that.”

Study took pressure off industry

McCarthy, the head of the EPA, said at the National Press Club last week that the agency will soon release the final study. She also said her agency is balancing the requests of the 30-member Science Advisory Board with the study’s limitations. During her remarks, McCarthy noted that the four board members with oil and gas ties dissented from the criticism of the phrase.

“This was one science advisory board that was as fractured as the subject matter,” McCarthy said. “While I can’t tell you the direction it is going to take, we are going to listen to all sides in terms of what the members thought, and we’ll come to the best decision that we can.”

The EPA has the authority to manage drinking water impacts to water resources and to oversee drinking water impacts through several federal laws, including the Clean Water Drinking Act and the Safe Water Drinking Act.

But states largely oversee oil and gas development.

The industry, heavily invested in continuing the practice, has steadily battled the EPA. The companies and their industry groups have also repeatedly said there have been no confirmed cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing.

That’s why the outcome of the EPA study was important.

If the study had emphasized major problems with the practice, it could have meant increased oversight by state regulators, a call for banning fracking in certain communities and even calls for additional federal oversight.

Instead, the draft study took pressure off the industry. 

“When the federal Environmental Protection Agency says that technology causes no widespread, systemic risk, that’s a big deal,” said Kevin Book, head of the research team at ClearView Energy Partners, which advises oil and gas investors. “That reinforces the sense that there’s nothing to see here, folks. Move on.”

How the language changed

The documents obtained by APM Reports and Marketplace show that on April 24, 2015, an executive summary was circulated that said “hydraulic fracturing activities have contaminated drinking water resources in a variety of documented cases. Despite these risks, the number of documented impacts is quite low.”

Nowhere did the draft state that there was no widespread, systemic impact on water.

On May 4, EPA officials met with key advisers to Obama, officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy to make sure they were “clear on messaging,” according to public documents.

By May 12, the executive summary had changed to include the phrase: “We did not find evidence of widespread, systemic impacts.”

And on May 20, another change deleted a sentence that said “a low rate of documented impacts does not minimize the effects experienced by citizens whose drinking water resources have been impacted.”

The agency’s news release also was altered in the days before the draft study was released.

A version circulated internally in early June featured a headline emphasizing vulnerabilities to drinking water.

But the news release issued publicly on June 4 featured a less forceful headline and a smaller, second headline saying that fracking had not “led to widespread, systemic impacts” and that the study “identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.”

Within a day, the Marcellus Shale Coalition from Pennsylvania put together a collection of TV news reports, all emphasizing the lack of impact and largely ignoring the vulnerabilities.


Industry has battled EPA

Today the oil and gas industry continues to use the study to advance drilling around the world.

The Maryland Petroleum Council is highlighting the research as it pushes to allow fracking in that state. And earlier this month, the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying group, urged the EPA to keep the language in the study. It said the report could affect New York’s statewide ban on fracking and influence whether other countries adopt the practice.

The American Petroleum Institute released its own industry-backed study confirming that hydraulic fracturing has led to no widespread, systemic impact to drinking water.

“It has plenty of supporting evidence for its conclusion, yet hydraulic fracturing and its peer-reviewed studies continue to face misinformed attacks on scientific conclusions that support the value and safety of the process,” said Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute.

Milito also said he believes the EPA’s Science Advisory Board raised questions about the report because it was swayed by the testimony of landowners who were complaining about their drinking water.

In addition to requesting supporting evidence, several members of the board characterized the phrase as a “value statement,” not a scientific one.

Congress, the oil and gas industry and environmental groups would not have settled for a report simply calling for additional research, Young said. “Most people don’t really want to spend millions of tax dollars on a study that comes up with the answer of ‘more study is needed.’”

The study ran into a number of difficulties when it began five years ago.

The EPA, for example, tried to work with oil and gas companies to conduct testing on sites before, during and after a fractured well is drilled. Called “baseline testing,” it would have allowed scientists to see whether the process resulted in any contamination of groundwater. Despite pledges of cooperation from the industry, the EPA could never reach agreement with any company to conduct the tests.

“Initially, industry was very supportive of working together with the EPA to do some field studies,” said Robert Puls, a scientist who oversaw the study in 2010 and 2011. “As the details for doing those studies got closer and closer to actual implementation, their resistance seemed to grow.”

Puls said he left his position at the EPA in 2011 partly because he was frustrated with resistance by oil and gas companies to work with the EPA on the study.

“They didn’t protect my water”

The Science Advisory Board isn’t the only group questioning how EPA officials could make the general claim that fracking caused no “widespread, systemic impacts” without scientific basis.

Many landowners who believe their water was harmed by hydraulic fracturing say the EPA let them down by minimizing the impact.

“They’re supposed to protect my water,” said Bill Ely, who owns land in Dimock, Pa., and settled a lawsuit with Cabot Oil and Gas over tainted water. “I pay them to protect my water. They didn’t protect my water or these people in this area here.”

A spokesman for Cabot did not return messages. Company officials have said that any problems with the water in Dimock occurred long before the company drilled in the area.

Ely is one of several dozen landowners in Dimock who noticed water was changing color once drilling started in their community in 2009.

The complaints from landowners placed Dimock at the center of the fight over the environmental safety of fracking. Movie stars and environmentalists visited the small, northeastern Pennsylvania town and called for the practice to be banned. Industry groups countered with analysis that the practice is safe and brings money and jobs to an economically depressed area.

Since the first incident occurred in 2009, state and federal regulators became heavily involved in Dimock.

In 2010, Pennsylvania regulators announced a settlement with Cabot Oil and Gas that required the company to pay $4.1 million to residents for drilling violations. Regulators said Cabot’s drilling practices allowed combustible methane to contaminate drinking water. And this year two families also won a $4.2 million court case against the company for negligence and creating a nuisance. More than a dozen other families settled with the company for an undisclosed sum.

Cabot has not disclosed terms of its settlement with landowners. Attorneys for Cabot said in court that the methane leaking from the wells was occurring naturally and was a problem before the company drilled in the area.

In 2012, the EPA conducted a study of private water wells of 64 homes in Dimock. The agency eventually determined “that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require action by the agency.”

But another federal agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, looked at the same data and concluded in June 2016 that chemicals in the water wells in 27 of the 64 homes were high enough to affect human health.

Some landowners are still pushing for the government to do more.

Every few weeks, Ray Kemble, who said he has one of those 27 homes, has to fill two 325-gallon tanks with water. The tanks, which sit in a shed outside his home, ensure he has clean water. His property, which sits across the street from a well pad, is covered with anti-fracking signs.

Kemble has been questioning the EPA’s conclusion of no widespread, systemic impact, including publicly testifying before the Science Advisory Board. He said he’s disappointed that regulators, including the EPA, didn’t do more for him.

“Why do we have to fight the government when the government was supposed to be protecting us?” he said. “Those agencies were put there to protect the people from stuff like this from happening.”

… The specifics of Trump’s approach are unknown. Last Monday, Trump issued a video statement saying that energy issues, including fracking, will be a top priority when he takes office.

“I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal – creating many millions of high-paying jobs. That’s what we want. That’s what we’ve been waiting for,” he said.

Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic, to lead the transition at the EPA. The president-elect also has pledged to further deregulate the oil and gas industry, but his position on fracking has been contradictory. In September, he vowed to expand natural gas production from fracking and coal production, two competing energy resources.

In August, Trump told a Colorado TV station that he was willing to let voters have a say on fracking bans, but in April he criticized New York state’s ban on the practice.

The disagreement over the environmental impact of fracking will continue in the Trump administration. In addition to finishing the study on hydraulic fracturing’s impact on drinking water, the EPA will continue to pay for research on fracking.

In September, it announced a $2 million study that will examine how oil and gas development is affecting water quality and its impact on human health. The study is focused on an area that includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Some scientists, landowners and environmental advocates believe that the EPA lacks credibility to research fracking’s impact on drinking water. They have grown suspicious about how the EPA handles fracking issues.

“They don’t know who to trust,” said Raina Rippel, who directs the Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which tracks health impacts on people in high-fracking areas. “They don’t necessarily feel that the state regulatory agencies or the federal regulatory agencies are listening. They feel so severely betrayed right now.” [Emphasis added]




Fracking Can Impact Drinking Water, EPA Report Finds Wall Street Journal 18 Minutes ago

EPA reverses course on fracking safety The Hill1 hour ago

EPA: “Data gaps” block verdict on fracking, drinking water The Denver Post2 hours ago

EPA: Fracking can impact drinking water StateImpact Pennsylvania26 seconds ago

EPA concludes fracking can, in some circumstances, impact drinking water Casper Star-Tribune Online14 minutes ago

EPA Says There’s No Evidence Fracking Contaminates Groudwater OpinionDaily Caller1 hour ago

EPA Says There’s No Evidence Fracking Contaminates Groudwater The Libertarian Republic2 hours ago

EPA reverses stance, cites fracking contamination of drinking water Marketplace.org56 minutes ago

In Stunning Reversal, EPA Now Says Fracking Can Impact Drinking Water … Natural Gas Intelligence52 minutes ago

EPA study cites problems, drops ‘widespread, system’ phrase Environment & Energy Publishing46 minutes ago

US EPA says fracking can impact drinking water resources MINING.com32 minutes ago

EPA now says it doesn’t know if fracking harms drinking water Washington Examiner (blog)3 hours ago

EPA distorts science in hydraulic fracturing study American Petroleum Institute Press Release 4 Hours ago

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — API today blasted the EPA’s abandonment of science in revising the conclusions to the Assessment Report on hydraulic fracturing. [Too funny! Too Pathetic!]

“It is beyond absurd for the administration to reverse course on its way out the door,” said API Upstream Director Erik Milito. “The agency has walked away from nearly a thousand sources of information from published papers, technical reports and peer reviewed scientific reports demonstrating that industry practices, industry trends, and regulatory programs protect water resources at every step of the hydraulic fracturing process. Decisions like this amplify the public’s frustrations with Washington.

“Fortunately, the science and data clearly demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing does not lead to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources. Unfortunately, consumers have witnessed five years and millions of dollars expended only to see conclusion based in science changed to a conclusion based in political ambiguity. We look forward to working with the new administration in order to instill fact-based science back into the public policy process.”

… When asked earlier this month about the finalized report, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “We’re going to stick with the science.” EPA’s original findings are supported by academics and specialists in oil and gas engineering operations, hydrology and geology.

The list of supporting evidence [Doesn’t look like any supporting evidence, looks like just more industry lies & propaganda] includes findings that no drinking water contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing was found in the Marcellus, the Utica, the Barnett, the Permian, the Eagle Ford, the Woodford, the Fayetteville, the Haynesville, the Bakken, the Denver- Julesburg, the Piceance, the Raton, or any other shale formation where oil and gas resources are being developed through hydraulic fracturing. [Watch the presentation linked to top of this post for tiny example of the many cases of proven drinking water contamination from fracing]

Reversing Course, E.P.A. Says Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water New York Times

… The new version is far more worrying than the first, which found “no evidence that fracking systemically contaminates water” supplies. In a significant change, that conclusion was deleted from the final study.

The report, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date on the effects of fracking on water supply, comes as President-elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to expand fracking and roll back existing regulations on the process. His choice to run the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt, the attorney general from Oklahoma, has built his career on fighting E.P.A. regulations on energy exploration.

Among Mr. Trump’s key energy policy advisers are Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources, an energy firm that has been at the forefront of the fracking boom, and Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, a state transformed by fracking.

Now that team must contend with scientific findings that urge caution in an energy sector that Mr. Trump wants to untether. Mr. Burke said that the new report found evidence that fracking has contributed to drinking water contamination in all stages of the process: acquiring water to be used for fracking, mixing the water with chemical additives to make fracking fluids, injecting the chemical fluids underground, collecting the wastewater that flows out of fracking wells after injections, and storing the used wastewater.

… In September, Mr. Trump promised a corporate conference of fracking executives in Pittsburgh: “The shale energy revolution will unleash massive wealth for America,” as he vowed to end regulations on fracking. 

“I think probably no other business has been affected by regulation than your business,” he told the gas executives. “Federal regulations remain a major restriction to shale production.”

Fracking is subject to only light federal regulations. The Obama administration has put forth one rule intended to protect water from fracking waste. But that rule applies only to fracking on public lands, which hold about 100,000 fracking wells — representing about 10 percent of all fracking in the United States. The vast majority of fracking occurs on state or private land and is governed by state and local regulations.

… Fracking advocates dismissed the report. “Even the new statement is still consistent with the finding that contamination attributable to shale development is neither widespread nor systemic,” Scott H. Segal, a fossil fuel lobbyist with the firm Bracewell Law LLP, wrote in an email. “But evidence of contamination is highly anecdotal and often overblown by the exaggeration often associated with litigation. The vast majority of third-party professional organizations and governmental officials have found shale development to be highly consistent with environmental protection and energy policy objectives.”

The E.P.A has been working on the report since 2010, when it was requested by Congress. Mr. Burke called the study unprecedented in scope and depth, saying it included a review of over 1,000 existing studies as well as new research, modeling and analysis conducted by E.P.A scientists. In the process of completing the study, the E.P.A. produced 13 peer-reviewed reports and published as many studies in scientific journals. [Emphasis added]

Fracking harms drinking water in ‘some circumstances,’ EPA concludes Reuters

Final EPA Study Concludes That Fracking Operations Can Contaminate Drinking Water Common Dreams · 22 mins ago, later updated

In a final report issued today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that fracking operations can impact drinking water “at each stage in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle”. The report walks back from a misleading summary statement that fracking poses “no widespread, systemic risks” to drinking water.

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.”

“EPA’s report confirms what experts and the science show: that fracking operations put our drinking water at risk,” said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling Program. “That families from Colorado to Pennsylvania have had their water contaminated from fracking should be evidence enough, but today’s report confirms: fracking puts our water at risk.”

Fracking can pollute our waterways at several points in the process – from spills of fracking fluid to leaks from surface equipment or wastewater impoundments, well blowouts, and the escape of methane and other contaminants from the well. In Pennsylvania, regulators confirmed at least 260 instances of private well contamination from fracking operations since 2005.

Independent journalists at Public Herald identified 2,309 complaints of pollution of private water wells from 17 out of the 40 Pennsylvania counties where fracking takes place.

The report, “Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources”, is a final version of the EPA’s draft assessment issued in June of 2015 that contained a summary statement suggesting that fracking has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources”. Yet as early as 2013, Environment America’s “Fracking by the Numbers” report identified over 1,000 instances in which, according to state data, fracking and its toxic wastewater had impacted drinking water sources. Additionally, data gaps and evidence throughout the EPA’s draft assessment indicated water contamination due to fracking.

These inconsistencies were brought to the surface by the EPA’s own panel of experts, its science advisory board, tasked with peer reviewing the landmark study. In addition to taking issue with the widely-criticized topline finding, the SAB pointed to data gaps such as the exclusion of Dimock, Pennsylvania, Pavillion, Wyoming, and Parker County, Texas, where water became so contaminated that residents could no longer drink water from their own tap. They also cited ambiguity on how the EPA reached its conclusion.

The science advisory board’s peer review process was open to public comment in which scientists tasked with reviewing the study heard from impacted community members, health professionals, and the scientific community that took issue with the study’s conclusions.

… “The conclusion that fracking posed no widespread risk dominated media coverage and was used as fodder by fracking proponents to excuse a practice that increases pollution and puts out communities at risk,” Richardson said. [Emphasis added]

EPA’s final report on fracking raises more questions than it answers; no verdict on water impact Washington Times

The draft report said that the EPA did not have evidence of “systemic impacts” on water, leading oil-and-gas proponents to claim victory.

But that sentence was removed from the final study. Without such a conclusion one way or the other, the study doesn’t answer the fundamental question at the heart of the debate: Whether fracking is a fundamental danger to drinking water.

“EPA scientists chose not to include this sentence in the final assessment released today,” Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s deputy assistant administrator and science advisor, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning. “EPA scientists concluded the sentence could not be quantitatively supported.”


Science and the Politics of Fracking—and What’s Ahead by Yogin Kathari, December 1, 2016, Union of Concerned Scientists

Yesterday, (and then again this morning) Marketplace reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) downplayed scientists’ concerns about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water in a draft assessment published in June 2015. According to Marketplace:

“Documents obtained by APM Reports and Marketplace show that in the six weeks before the study’s public release, officials inserted a key phrase into the executive summary that said researchers did not find evidence of “widespread systemic impacts” of fracking by the oil and gas industry on the nation’s drinking water.

Earlier draft versions emphasized more directly that fracking has contaminated drinking water in some places.

The documents also show that the news release accompanying the scientific study was changed on June 3, 2015, the day before it was made public. A draft displayed a conclusion that the EPA had identified “potential vulnerabilities” to drinking water. But the final release dated June 4, concluded: “Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.”


How we got here

UCS has long had concerns about inconsistencies with how the EPA was describing the risks of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. The executive summary and press materials accompanying the draft report suggested that there was nothing to fear. But that contradicted the findings in the body of the nearly thousand-page assessment.

Most people, of course, don’t read the fine print. The result? Misleading headlines, misinformation, and industry spin, all declaring that hydraulic fracturing is safe, even though the draft EPA assessment did find impacts on drinking water resources as a result of hydraulic fracturing activities.

In late June and July of 2015, UCS submitted multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to learn more about how the EPA finalized its executive summary and press release. The Marketplace story draws on some of the documents released through this public records request. Because many of the documents we obtained were heavily redacted, UCS is still trying to learn more about how the materials were developed.

Correcting the faulty language  

Since last October, the a group of independent scientists that advise the EPA has met publicly multiple times to deliberate the findings and review public comments of the assessment. In its final report to the EPA Administrator, the group concluded that the agency needed more clarity and support for major findings. In particular, they found the EPA statement that “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States” concerning.

It’s now obvious that there is inadequate scientific support for the “widespread, systemic” language. The scientists have been so clear about this that it would be really hard for EPA to keep that language in the final executive summary and assessment.

Independent information about fracking is needed

We can’t have an informed discussion about how to control the risks of hydraulic fracturing if we don’t have an independent assessment of what the science says about those risks. The industry has a compelling interest in preventing the federal government from doing that assessment, and regularly exerts influence to try to stop or limit the breadth of any investigation.

This particular assessment was plagued with delays and limits to its access to information. For example, while the agency conducted this assessment, the oil and gas sector prevented the EPA from obtaining data it needed to fully determine whether hydraulic fracturing is safe for drinking water. To its credit, in the report the EPA pointed this out as a limitation of the project.

And as we highlighted in a 2013 report, the EPA faced pushback from the industry when it was in the process of conducting investigations around water quality concerns in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming, causing it to back down from a full investigation.

Further, government scientists need the authority to ensure that their employers are representing their work accurately. If scientists are not free to conduct the research and communicate the results, communities will be less prepared to accurately assess the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing and respond accordingly.

Beyond fracking: federal science moving forward

As President-elect Donald J. Trump builds his corporate cabinet [and that before Tump chose Putin’s buddy & ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State!], science critical to protecting public health and safety will become more vulnerable to spin and suppression than ever before. Now, it is more important than ever for federal scientists to be able to follow the evidence where it leads them and communicate their findings to the public, without political or industry interference or pressure.

The scientific community will be watching the Trump administration closely and holding it to the same high standards that we would expect from any administration when it comes to the use of independent science, integrity, and transparency in federal policymaking. To put the administration on notice that we will hold them accountable, thousands of scientists across all 50 states joined 22 Nobel Laureates in an open letter yesterday outlining the scientific community’s expectations of the incoming Trump administration and Congress.

Federal scientists are critical to the health and safety of our communities, and the science community will continue to speak up to protect their ability to do this essential work. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

2002 Linking Water Science to Policy Groundwater Quality by Council of Canadian Ministers of the Environment! Completely left out by Dr. John Cherry and his panel of “experts” in their Council of Canadian Academies’ frac report!

2002 CCME report chapter 4 by dr john cherry hilted

2014 04 30 CCAs Dr John Cherry Ignored His own 2002 CCME report Chapter 4 laws regs weak, lack of enforcement

Above from the 2002 CCME Report Groundwater Quality which the CCME removed from their website after Ernst filed their report in document exchange with Encana and spoke about it publicly in Canada and internationally.

2014 01 05: US EPA unlikely to step up fracking enforcement efforts because of lack of staff, lack of funding for expensive testing and investigating, lack of political will

2014 01 19: New testing finds methane contamination in North Texas drinking water is increasing and spreading; Scientists point to Range Resources, Range and the regulator say nature did it

2014 01 26: EPA Defends Three Abandoned Fracking Investigations: Cabot Oil & Gas at Dimock, Range Resources at Parker Co, Encana at Pavillion; EPA Says it Will Work With States to Prevent Pollution

….accused the EPA of  “a troubling trend of abandoning investigations of hydraulic fracturing before they are completed.”

Beinecke’s letter to the EPA cited three high-profile investigations of well water contamination, all near natural gas wells where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, had been used to stimulate underground gas flow. The investigations were in Parker County, Texas, near a Range Resources Inc. gas well; at Pavillion, Wyo., near Encana Corp. gas wells; and at Dimock, Pa., near Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. gas wells.

… When the EPA withdrew from the cases, “the public lost confidence that EPA was truly dedicated to investigating the risks of hydraulic fracturing and ensuring full enforcement of federal environmental statutes,” Beinecke said.

2014 09 21: “No duty of care,” legally immune, Charter violating Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) may order vertical compulsory pooling; “communication between…separate pools having…different ownership had been induced by hydraulic fracture stimulation”

2015 06 21: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Why ask for regulations knowing frac problems & harms can’t be repaired with regulations, not even “best in the world,” and everywhere they’re fracing, or planning to, regulators are madly deregulating?

2015 10 16: HOW MUCH FRAUD ARE COURTS, REGULATORS, COMPANIES ENGAGING IN TO HIDE THE FRAC POISONING? Tracers to blame? Range Resources unwillingly confirms fracking directly pollutes drinking water? Damning new information surfaces in Washington County water well contamination case

2015 12 27: The Ultimate Frac Fraud? In EPA Draft Frac Report: “700 pages (24,000 lines) presenting the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water resources and human health but only 2 lines concluding that it is not a universal problem”

2016 01 07: EPA’s “own science advisers” criticize agency study’s conclusion drinking water is safe from fracking ]

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