Regulatory Reform

EPA: Fracking Does Not Pose “Systemic” Threat to Drinking Water

Over the past decade, hydraulic fracturing (often colloquially referred to as “fracking”) has generated a great deal of criticism from environmentalists and other activists. However, after conducting a four-year study on the potential impact of fracking on drinking water resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found no evidence of fracking having “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” The agency, though, did cite potential vulnerabilities that should be addressed, such as well integrity and waste water disposal.

In 2010, spurred by residents living nearby oil and gas wells claiming that fracking operations had contaminated their drinking water, Congress directed EPA to study fracking in order to determine whether the practice posed any threats. Many expected EPA to use the results of this study to determine whether the agency should be afforded more authority to regulate the well stimulation technique. For almost seven decades now, fracking has been regulated nearly exclusively by the states. EPA’s report does not recommend any specific action.

EPA’s study is the latest in a long line of evidence suggesting that shale development can occur with minimal environmental impact. Interestingly, the report comes roughly six months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) implemented a fracking ban in New York State citing, in part, “potential water contamination” and “the potential to affect drinking water quality.”

In Depth: Regulatory Reform

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that “the sum of good government” was one “which shall restrain men from injuring one another” and “shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry.” Sadly, governments – both federal and state – have ignored this axiom and…

+ Regulatory Reform In Depth