The Hill | 11 January 2016
EPA Science Advisers Buck Agency on Hydraulic Fracturing Safety
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went too far with its finding that hydraulic fracturing is safe, the agency’s science advisers say.
The 31-member Science Advisory Board (SAB) is taking issue with the EPA’s conclusion in a landmark report from June that there is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing has “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
The panel came out with an initial 133-page draft of its report on the study, saying that the main conclusion of the EPA’s findings does not follow the actual data that it precedes.“The SAB finds that this statement does not clearly describe the system(s) of interest (e.g., groundwater, surface water) nor the definitions of ‘systemic,’ ‘widespread,’ or ‘impacts,’ ” the advisory panel said.
“The statement is ambiguous and requires clarification and additional explanation,” the scientists wrote, adding that the main conclusions “are inconsistent with the observations, data, and levels of uncertainty presented and discussed in the body of the draft assessment report.”
The panel’s members have been vocal about criticizing report in recent months. They plan to finalize their findings on 1 February and forward them to EPA leaders for their consideration.
EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said the agency looks forward to receiving their contributions.
“The agency uses robust peer review to ensure the integrity of our scientific products,” she said. “We will use the comments from the SAB, along with the comments from members of the public, to evaluate how to augment and revise the draft assessment.”
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