EPA study confirms that fracking is not responsible for widespread water contamination

On June 4, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its highly anticipated study on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. The EPA has been working on this study for a number of years. In the study, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing is not the cause of widespread contamination of drinking water.

The EPA’s report is one of many studies over the past couple of years to conclude that hydraulic fracturing has minimal impact on groundwater. For instance, the United States Department of Energy released a study that tracked hydraulic fracturing fluids over a twelve month period. The report found that the fracking fluid did not contaminate the groundwater. Other studies reaching this conclusion include reports by: the United States Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council. According to the EPA, its study is the most comprehensive study conducted on the subject. In fact, the EPA relied on more than 950 different sources.

The EPA’s study acknowledged that there have been some cases of wells leaking fluids; however, the report concluded that this concern could be addressed strengthening wells and ensuring that wastewater is properly disposed.

The EPA’s study will not be finalized until it is reviewed by the Science Advisory Board and the public has had an adequate opportunity to review and comment. Instructions on how to submit commits will be published today.

Read the report.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge (johnjerica.hodge@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.