EPA Says Fracking Can Impact Water Resources

Dec 14, 2016

Credit Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed a previous finding that fracking did not cause “widespread, systemic” harm to drinking water in the United States. In its final report on the issue, the EPA said under certain circumstances hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to drinking water resources.

But because of what the agency calls “data gaps,” it was unable to make a definitive statement on just how risky fracking is.

Powder River Basin Resource Council spokeswoman Jill Morrison said the findings echo a 2013 report on oil and gas development’s impact on Wyoming groundwater, and that fracking is especially taxing on resources in water-short states, like arid Wyoming.

“It clearly points to the issue,” said Morrison. “And what we have been saying for some time is we need much better controls and regulation in the oil and gas industry in terms of insuring that we have adequate casing in wells, that we are not depleting our groundwater sources.”

Last year’s report was widely criticized by scientists for not taking into account places like Pavillion, Wyoming, where residents complained about changes to their water quality after energy development. The new report includes Pavillion, along with other areas where poorly constructed drilling wells or improper wastewater management contaminated private water wells.