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Ear to the Ground

AP: EPA Buried Fracking Evidence at Drilling Company’s Behest

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Posted on Jan 16, 2013
Photo by Jayson Shenk (CC-BY)

The Environmental Protection Agency may be making evidence of water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing disappear to satisfy the drilling industry and lawmakers.

The Associated Press has learned of at least two cases in which the agency decided to re-evaluate its toxic findings after receiving outside pressure.

In the case of one Fort Worth, Texas, area family, the EPA rescinded an emergency order related to methane in the water supply after a drilling company threatened not to join a national study on fracking.

One of the major concerns about fracking, a process of extracting oil from formerly impenetrable underground rock, is that the slurry of toxic chemicals involved can make local water undrinkable. Other concerns include the potential for earthquakes and the continued burning of fossil fuels, which are cooking the planet.

The Associated Press via Google:

When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family’s drinking water had begun bubbling like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: A company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

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—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer. 

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