Hydraulic fracturing has not caused any major harms to drinking water supplies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded Thursday.
In what the EPA is calling the most comprehensive examination of existing data and science on the impact on drinking water from the controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique, it largely debunked concerns about extensive contamination of well water or other sources.
And while the draft report released Thursday is largely a win for industry, which has said for years that fracking is completely safe, the EPA recognized some “potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.”
“EPA’s draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” Thomas A. Burke, and EPA science advisor and top official in its research office, said in a statement.
“It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports,” he said.
Fracking is the main force behind the oil and gas renaissance that the United States has seen in recent years, leading it to become the top gas producer in the world and putting it on a course toward the top oil producer.
The process involves injecting water and chemical additives into wells at high pressure to break shale rock and unleash additional oil or gas.
The main conclusion of the nearly 1,000-page report is the researchers did not find that fracking has “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”