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Science Advisory Board Set to Ask for More Details but Affirms EPA’s Topline Conclusion

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chartered Science Advisory Board has decided after an all-day meeting to ask the EPA to provide more details regarding its topline finding of “no widespread, systemic impacts” to drinking water sources from hydraulic fracturing. In making this request, the Science Advisory Board is not asking EPA to change or eliminate its topline finding (much to the chagrin of ban-fracking activists) – it is asking EPA to “quantify” or provide the “numbers” behind that finding. In other words, the SAB is set to affirm what has been abundantly clear: EPA’s topline conclusion is sound.

The vast majority of the SAB also agreed at the meeting that EPA had done its due diligence in its landmark study. As the Tribune-Review reported, “All but one member of Dzombak’s panel agreed that EPA conducted a comprehensive assessment.” A smaller group of board members will now work to finalize SAB’s recommendations and send them to the EPA.

As Energy In Depth explained in testimony to the SAB, not once, after months of deliberation, and three, over-100 page draft recommendations, had the SAB Hydraulic Fracturing Panel pointed to any evidence that would contradict EPA’s topline finding of “no widespread, systemic impacts” to drinking water resources.  Further, four SAB panel members made this abundantly clear in an opinion, which states, “The statement by the EPA in the draft Assessment Report issued in June, 2015 is clear, unambiguous, concise, and does not need to be changed or modified.”

EPA’s findings but are right in line with what scientists have repeatedly concluded in peer-reviewed research. Studies by the University of Cincinnati, U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Groundwater Protection CouncilCalifornia Council on Science and Technology, and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, as well as studies by numerous universities, such as MIT, University of Texas at Austin,  and Yale (just to name a few) have come to exactly the same conclusion.

If there were any evidence to suggest widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing, it would have been uncovered in EPA’s five-year study and during the past decade of extensive research. It appears the SAB is finally ready to put discussions of semantics aside and acknowledge that fact.

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