The Environmental Protection Agency released a report Tuesday confirming that hydraulic fracturing activities, used to extract oil and gas from the ground, can contaminate nearby drinking water in certain circumstances.
The EPA’s study found that fracking can be dangerous if water is withdrawn when water availability is low, when fracking liquids spill and reach groundwater, and when injecting fracking fluids into wells causes natural gas to move into groundwater resources.
They also found problems when inadequately treated fracking wastewater is dumped in streams or lakes, as well as when fracking wastewater is stored in unlined pits, which allows the water to seep into local groundwater. The impact of this can be contamination of entire underground freshwater reservoirs that are typically used for drinking water, cooking and farmland irrigation.
The study is meant to provide more information on realistic risks and provide prevention methods to states that currently allow fracking or are exploring the concept. The research is the most complete compilation to date of data related to the impact of drinking water from fracking, said Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s science advisor, in a statement.
“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,” he said.
Other government organizations have issued warnings related to fracking. The US Geological Survey stated earlier this year that the injection of fracking wastewater underground caused one 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Oklahoma last winter.
The study comes as President-Elect Donald Trump has included several energy- and oil-friendly businessmen to his cabinet. His latest addition is ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Trump said in a speech outlining his first 100 days priorities that he would reduce regulations surrounding energy production, including from shale. Since the process of fracking relies on fracturing shale to extract oil, it can be inferred that he means he’ll encourage fracking—and threaten our water and land.
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from New EPA Report Affirms Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water