Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Alan Kovski
Aug. 11 — The Environmental Protection Agency should revise its summary statements in a report on hydraulic fracturing risks to clearly link those statements to evidence found in the body of the report, the EPA Science Advisory Board said Aug. 11.
The SAB review of the EPA's hydraulic fracturing study included points similar to what the advisory board's hydraulic fracturing panel had proposed, especially in regard to a much-debated statement by the EPA that the agency did not find evidence of “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
“The SAB concludes that if the EPA retains this conclusion, the EPA should provide quantitative analysis that supports its conclusion,” the science advisers said.
The advisory board's review included an appendix with the dissenting view of four members of the hydraulic fracturing panel who said the summary statement about the lack of “widespread, systemic impacts” was accurate, unambiguous and supportable with the facts studied by the EPA.
It has been more than five years since the EPA started working on its study, “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources,” issued in draft final form in June 2015 and submitted to the SAB for review before a final version is issued.
The study was requested by Congress in 2009.
The science advisers criticized more than the phrasing in the EPA study's executive summary. The full board, like its hydraulic fracturing panel, urged the EPA to provide more clarity in terms of the degrees of various risks.
“The EPA should consider prioritizing the major findings that have been identified within Chapters 4-9 of the final Assessment Report according to expectations regarding the magnitude of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing-related activities on drinking water resources,” the advisory board said.
To help the reader understand the most differing magnitudes of potential hazards, the EPA “should clearly describe the probability, risk and relative significance of potential hydraulic fracturing-related failure mechanisms, and the frequency of occurrence and most likely magnitude and/or probability of risk of water quality impacts associated with such failure mechanisms,” the advisory board said.
That criticism reflected the science advisers' concern that the EPA study pointed to various risks without making clear that some might be more or less likely to occur and might have larger or smaller impacts. The advisers' point was that not all worries merit equal weight.
The advisory board expressed a somewhat similar point when it said a limitation of the EPA’s study was its “lack of analysis of the most likely exposure scenarios and hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing activities.”
The EPA assessment was 998 pages in its draft final form. The science advisers recommended adding much more information to it.
Many of the criticisms are recommendations for more information, such as information on the toxicity of chemicals used in fracking fluids and characterizations of the different kinds of impacts on surface water and groundwater.
The science advisers recommended inclusion of information on three controversial cases of water pollution—in Dimock, Pa., Pavillion, Wyo., and Parker County, Texas. Examination of those “high-visibility cases” is important so that the public “can more fully understand the status of the investigations, conclusions of the investigations and lessons to be learned,” the advisers said.
The science advisers did not cite any conclusions or lessons that were learned, however, and neither the EPA nor state regulators have suggested there are solid conclusions or clear lessons in those cases. The three cases have been a focus of much environmental activism and complaints of local property owners who say fracking polluted their water wells.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Kovski in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)