Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Ohioans protesting against fracking in their state in 2012. (Photo: Progress Ohio/cc/flickr)

Ohioans protesting against fracking in their state in 2012. (Photo: Progress Ohio/cc/flickr)

Over 200 Groups Demand EPA Revise Dangerously Flawed Fracking Study

Groups charge that the EPA has "done the public a disservice" by helping promote a toxic drilling method

Lauren McCauley

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) flawed assessment that fracking has not led to "widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States" must be urgently corrected, more than 200 environmental and public interest groups demanded in a letter (pdf) to EPA chief Gina McCarthy on Monday.

Not only did that language "seriously misrepresen[t] the findings of its underlying study," the letter charges that the EPA has "done the public a disservice" by helping promote a drilling method that has a known impact on water and air quality, and has been found to be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

"News media quickly relayed this wholly inaccurate statement about the findings of the 1000-page study, much to the delight of the oil and gas industry and much to the satisfaction of the large financial interests invested in continued drilling and fracking for decades, to maximize U.S. oil and gas production," Monday's letter states.

What's more, the letter follows recent revelations that the White House was actively engaged in the "messaging" for the roll-out of the EPA's June 2015 draft report. The Obama administration has long been criticized for embracing and promoting fracking as part of its 'All of the Above' energy policy.

The groups cite a report issued by the agency's own Science Advisory Board (SAB) last month, which concluded that the EPA's report on the drilling method was inaccurate and misleading.

The SAB had recommended "that if the EPA retains this conclusion, the EPA should provide quantitative analysis that supports its conclusion that hydraulic fracturing has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources."

Now, the coalition of national, statewide, and local groups, representing millions of members, are specifically calling on McCarthy to "resolve the three major problems with the controversial line." They write: 

  1. The EPA did not provide a sense of what the agency would have considered "widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States."
  2. The "widespread, systemic" line is problematic because it presumes, without discussion, that looking on a national scale, over several years, provides an appropriate metric for evaluating the significance of known impacts.
  3. The "widespread, systemic" line is problematic because the EPA failed to explain adequately the impediments to arriving at quantitative estimates for the frequencies and severities of the impacts already occurring.

The letter further urges the EPA to address the SAB recommendation that the agency "should include and fully explain the status, data on potential releases, and findings if available for the EPA and state investigations conducted in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas where many members of the public have stated that hydraulic fracturing activities have caused local impacts to drinking water resources."

"We expect," the letter concludes, "that the agency's final assessment will be clear about where thorough scientific analysis ends and any political considerations begin."

Signees include Food & Water Watch, United Native Americans, 350.org, Breast Cancer Action, Indigenous Environmental Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, and hundreds more.

The letter comes in the final months of a heated presidential contest, one in which observers have noted that the future of the fracking industry will be determined.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said she wants to impose greater conditions on the practice and supports local ordinances—though she has refused to call for a national ban on fracking. At the same time, her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has promised fossil fuel executives that he would lift "all unnecessary regulations" on drilling.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo