For Immediate Release

Ranking Member Grijalva Leads 49-Member Letter to EPA Chief Urging Fracking Review to Follow Expert Input on Water Risks

WASHINGTON - Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva today sent a letter signed by 49 House Democrats urging Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and her staff to follow the recommendations of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) before finalizing and publishing a congressionally mandated review of fracking’s risks to drinking water. In its recently released assessmentof a draft the Agency published in June 2015, the SAB highlighted multiple unsupported statements that downplayed fracking’s potential drinking water impacts and said a final version should better reflect the available science.

As today’s letter, available at, states in part:

Of particular concern in this regard is the high-level conclusion statement [in the EPA draft] on page ES-6 that ‘We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.’”

The unsupported statement had an outsized impact on the EPA’s communications about the draft Assessment Report, and on the ensuing media coverage. Indeed, the EPA’s press release about the draft Assessment Report took the statement significantly further, saying, “hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have [sic] not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” The final Assessment should clarify the statement to be consistent with the SAB recommendation to justify or delete it. [. . .] The [SAB] Review points out the draft Assessment Report’s claim that spills from hydraulic fracturing do not pose a substantial risk to drinking water “is not supported or linked to data presented in the body of the draft Assessment Report.”

The EPA document, formally the draft “Assessment Report of Potential Impacts to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Natural Gas,” is expected to be finalized in the coming months. When published, the document will represent the state of the science on fracking’s drinking water impacts and, as the EPA says at a Frequently Asked Questions page, “will be an important resource for states, tribes, and industry to protect public health and drinking water resources more effectively.”

Congress mandated the study in late 2009 in a bill formally titled the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010.

“American environmental science is second to none, and our environmental policies should reflect that,” Grijalva said. “No matter what industry prefers or what the politics of the moment demand, our environmental standards have to be based on the best available information, and that’s all we’re asking for today.”

In addition to Grijalva, the letter is signed by Democratic Reps. Polis; Schakowsky; Lee (CA); Langevin; Grayson; Lowenthal; Honda; Norton; McGovern; Napolitano; Connolly; Capps; Tsongas; Quigley; Cartwright; Velázquez; Nadler; Cummings; Farr; Beyer; Serrano; Edwards; Lieu; Huffman; Gutierrez; Schiff; Blumenauer; Pocan; Moulton; Payne, Jr.; Watson Coleman; Speier; Waters; Engel; Cleaver II; Chu; Conyers, Jr.; Murphy; C. Maloney; McCollum; Pingree; Hastings; Van Hollen; Keating; Wasserman Schultz; Jeffries; Rice; and Ellison.


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