EID Testifies on Science Advisory Board’s Second Draft Recommendations to EPA

Energy In Depth testified today at the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel’s public teleconference to discuss its second version of draft recommendations on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark draft assessment of fracking and groundwater.

I’m Dr. Katie Brown and I’m the Team Lead and spokesperson for Energy In Depth, which is a research and education program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

In my testimony at the last teleconference, I spoke about how the SAB panel had contradicted itself as it requested that EPA change its topline finding on the basis of outlier events, even though – by definition, if an event is an “outlier,” that means it’s neither widespread nor systemic.

Today I’d like to point out that EPA’s topline finding of “no widespread, systemic impacts” is right in line with the overwhelming scientific consensus.

Most recently, researchers at the University of Cincinnati, who took samples before, during and after shale development, found no groundwater contamination from fracking. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Groundwater Protection Council, California Council on Science and Technology, the Department of Energy, as well as studies by numerous universities, such as MIT, University of Texas at Austin and Yale have come to that same conclusion.

Both Texas and Wyoming regulators submitted comments to the panel. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality suggested that SAB consult its 30 month investigation into water wells in Pavillion, Wyoming, which concluded that it is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallower depths intercepted by water-supply wells.”

The Texas Railroad Commission points the SAB to its own investigation, which found that the methane in Parker County Texas wells was from the Strawn formation, not the Barnett Shale, and therefore naturally occurring. It also asks SAB to consider its well integrity review, which demonstrated “that the wells in the area were adequately completed to prevent such movement.”

EPA’s landmark groundwater study took no less than five years to complete, and is by far the most comprehensive study ever to be done on hydraulic fracturing. The dissenting opinion by Walt Hufford on the SAB panel agrees not only with EPA but with the overwhelming scientific evidence that fracking has not led to “widespread, systemic impacts” to drinking water sources.

Whether it’s the first or second draft, there is nothing in SAB’s recommendations to suggest that EPA’s finding of “no widespread, systemic” groundwater impacts from hydraulic fracturing is incorrect. In that sense, SAB’s document actually affirms EPA’s topline finding.

SAB should maintain its role as a scientific body and base its recommendations on the science and the facts.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

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