In a report released last week, the EPA found that hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is not polluting the nation’s drinking water. The report, based on a four-year study regarded as the U.S. government’s most exhaustive review of the issue to date, concluded that fracking, as currently practiced by industry, is not having “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.”
Fracking involves injecting sand, water, and chemicals underground to crack open rock formations holding natural gas and oil. The practice has been controversial because of its perceived environmental impacts, and three states – Maryland, New York and Vermont – have banned it as a result of pressure from environmental activists, who claim that the use of chemicals in the fracking process contaminates drinking water supplies. The EPA’s findings prove that this claim is wrong.
The EPA report states that despite how commonplace fracking has become – 9.4 million people have lived within one mile of a fracking site since 2000, 6,800 sources of public drinking water rest that close to a fracking site, and more than 25,000 new fracking sites have been created since 2011 – only a small number of isolated cases have arisen in which well deficiencies may have involved contamination of drinking water.
We at CWC are gratified by the EPA’s findings. We recognize the economic benefits of fracking and the role it plays in the health of our domestic energy industry. But we also note the critical importance of water in the fracking process – water is the biggest component used in fracking and fracking wells generate a large volume of wastewater requiring disposal or recycling. We are therefore mindful of how this issue highlights the critical need for more water infrastructure funding at all levels. Without well built and maintained water infrastructure, economically valuable processes like fracking could not be undertaken.
For the text of the full report, click here.