Fracking Unfocus: How the EPA’s Long-Awaited Hydraulic Fracturing Study Could Miss the Mark

From Truth Out:

By Roger Drouin
Monday, 18 November 2013

The fracking rush will boom for at least two more years before a long-awaited EPA study probing the industry’s dangers posed to drinking water will be completed.

That’s too long for states like Pennsylvania to wait, says Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale coordinator with Clean Water Action Pennsylvania and one of a growing group of environmental advocates and chemical scientists who now worry the study will fall short on several fronts.

“We have to wait two years for the study to come out, and another year for a review,” Hvozdovich said. “Three years is a long time for states like Pennsylvania, who are dealing with the impacts of gas drilling every day, to get some help from the federal government.”

The study will examine the impact of chemicals injected deep into the Earth during the full water cycle in hydraulic fracturing – an industry that is largely exempt from federal regulation.

Yet Hvozdovich is concerned the study relies too much on data provided by oil and gas companies, that it ignores possible air pollution and that it will not include specific recommendations aimed at preventing water contamination. The biggest concern, however, is that the study’s conclusions will be too little, too late after a two-year delay, announced by an EPA official in June 2013.

The EPA’s delay in the national study – combined with the agency’s recent decision to abandon an investigation that linked fracking chemicals with groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyo. – raises the question “of whether there is a serious commitment to doing something about water contamination issues having to do with natural-gas fracking,” Hvozdovich said.

In 2010, Congress ordered the EPA to look into the dangers posed to drinking water sources by hydraulic fracturing. It was viewed as an ambitious study, designed to inform policymakers and bring legislative changes.

The research was expected to be completed in 2014. Then in 2013, in an announcement that was overlooked by most media outlets, EPA officials delayedthe study until 2016.

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