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Focus on Fracturing

Washington Insighter

The Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

The Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle
Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

In 2010, Congress required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a scientific study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water.  In 2015, EPA issued a draft report stating that it did not find evidence hydraulic fracturing has “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

PESA President Leslie Beyer recently provided public comments to an EPA advisory panel in support of that finding, noting that it is supported by EPA’s review, the experience of PESA members, and published scientific research.

The EPA report is only another battle line in the growing fight over hydraulic fracturing specifically and the broader anti-fossil fuel movement.  Reports like this and committee proceedings can have a major role as the federal government, state agencies, and local communities have debates over regulations governing fracturing or even outright bans.

The Scientific Advisory Board is conducting a peer review of the EPA’s draft report, and that review is likely to call on the EPA to remove this conclusion, include language calling for more study, and consider cases where government reviews have found no connection between drinking water contamination and fracturing.

In her statement, Beyer noted that PESA members led the development of fracturing in the 1940s and 1950s, and work with their partners under strong industry standards and existing regulations to ensure that the process is done safely.  This commitment to safety and to continuous process and technology improvement need to be reflected in the EPA report, according to Beyer.

Most of PESA’s comments were focused on noting the significant amount of experience the industry has with fracturing and the fact that the process has been subject to significant government review and scientific study.  Anti-fracturing groups have argued that the notion of a “lack of evidence” of impacts on drinking water means that more research must be done.

As Beyer noted, a “‘lack of evidence’ of impacts on drinking water is not due to a deficit of analysis or data.  Instead, it is due to the overwhelming evidence that HF does not have widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

The public comment session occurred on June 8th and June 14th.  PESA’s comments were reported in an Environment & Energy Daily article (subscription required), noting that the Association “praised the report’s conclusion,” in contrast to criticism from anti-fracturing activists.

By providing these public comments, PESA continues our role as a unified voice for the service, supply, and manufacturing sector, especially those companies that are unable to devote resources to engaging in these activities.  PESA’s focus is to ensure that policymakers and regulators are informed about the latest science, technology, and industry practice in advance of and simultaneously with the rulemaking process.

You can read Beyer’s public comments here and learn more about the EPA’s study online here.




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