More Fracking Lies from the EPA

Guest post by David Middleton


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed course on Tuesday, saying in a long-awaited report that it doesn’t have enough information to make a broad conclusion about widespread threats to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing.

A government report on the safety of fracking released Tuesday deleted a draft assessment’s conclusion that the process has no national “widespread, systemic impact” on drinking water.

Instead, the EPA determined that fracking can have an impact on drinking water under certain circumstances, a change in position that drew backlash from the drilling industry.

“There are instances when hyrdofracking has impacted drinking water resources. That’s an important conclusion, an important consideration for moving forward,” said Thomas Burke, a deputy assistant administrator and science adviser at the EPA, on a call with reporters Tuesday.


The conclusion comes in the EPA’s final review of the data and research into the impact of fracking on drinking water. The agency’s 1,200-page report, released Tuesday, is mandated by Congress and was five years in the making.

Fracking is the controversial process by which high-pressured water and chemicals are injected into the ground to break apart shale rock and release the oil and gas stored in it.


A draft version of the EPA’s report, released in June 2015, concluded that fracking has not “led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

But the final report deleted that conclusion. Instead, it said fracking could impact drinking water throughout the drilling process. Authors pointed to water withdrawals in areas with low water supplies, chemical or water spills, the injection of fracking fluids into wells with “inadequate mechanical integrity” and fracking fluids entering the groundwater supply.

The top-line findings of the study changed after input from the EPA’s independent Science Advisory Board, which, in August, insisted the agency quantify the draft’s conclusion. Burke said EPA scientists could not do that and pulled the conclusion from the report.


“It is beyond absurd for the administration to reverse course on its way out the door,” said American Petroleum Institute Upstream Director Erik Milito.

“The science and data clearly demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing does not lead to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources. Unfortunately, consumers have witnessed five years and millions of dollars expended only to see conclusion based in science changed to a conclusion based in political ambiguity.”

Energy In Depth, an industry-funded group launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said that despite changes in the central conclusion, the report still  “blows apart the anti-fracking campaign’s most common claim, namely that hydraulic fracturing is polluting groundwater all across America.”

But, Katie Brown, a writer and spokeswoman for the group, said the “EPA did its best to inject politics into this good news by inflating concerns about groundwater, no doubt as a parting thank-you gift to the ‘Keep It In the Ground’ movement.”


The Hill

Note to the The Hill: Fracking is not a “controversial process.”  Most oil and gas wells are fracked in some way.  It is a common well completion procedure. The process has been in common use for over 60 years.

The EPA “Science Advisory Board” has employed the Gasland canard…

[F]racking could impact drinking water throughout the drilling process.

Fracking is a well completion operation.  Frack jobs are performed in the well completion procedure.  This is the only phase of the “drilling process” in which frack jobs are performed.  As such, it cannot “impact drinking water throughout the drilling process.” In the Gasland canard, “the drilling process” includes everything from wellsite preparation, to drilling, to completion, to production, to wastewater disposal, to plugging & abandonment, to wellsite reclamation… And then any pollution in the entire process is attributed to fracking…

Fracking – when taken to mean the entire process of developing an oil or gas well – has conclusively been linked to water contamination by federal and state environmental authorities many times.

–Josh Gasland Fox

It defies all credibility for an advisory board to reverse the conclusions of a 1,200 page report, on a whim, just prior to publication… particularly if the reversal is based on the bastardization of the word “fracking.”

Scott Pruitt can’t get to Washington DC soon enough and this needs to start on January 20, 2017…

I will write a sequel to this post after I have reviewed the EPA’s full report.


I downloaded the “1,200 page report”… 50 pages of Executive Summary, 666 pages of report and 572 pages of appendices.  This is from the Executive Summary table of contents…




The only section dealing directly with fracking (the operation) is “Well Injection.”


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December 14, 2016 5:18 am

According to the Left: You know Science is “Real” when it makes you FEEL GOOD!

December 14, 2016 5:22 am

“the process has no national “widespread, systemic impact” on drinking water.” is a factual statement and should not be deleted. It’s a separate issue that it might be possible for something to happen in the future, if accidents occur.
Even if, what are the chances it becomes widespread? Can it happen inadvertently from a proper process, or does it require a mistake?
It’s one thing to speculate about the future. They cannot be allowed to omit history.

December 14, 2016 5:25 am

All you need to know about the film Gasland is that the “methane coming through the taps” scenario actually pre-dated the onset of fracking. That is, it was not a fracking-related phenomenon in spite of what the film led you to believe.
Here is Phelim McAleer putting Fox on the spot:

Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 6:15 am

That’s been known for years in the energy industry, and is referred to as surface gas. Here in Alberta we have water wells with very noticeable concentrations of H2S as well. I’ve been in places where you can turn a water tap on in the kitchen, and within minutes you can smell it throughout the house.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 7:25 am

No one, and I mean no one, ever had a problem with CH4 or H2S in their “drinking” water until they started “drilling” water wells.
“DUH”, the old timey “hand-dug” water wells had such a large opening at the top of the ground that those nasty gasses could escape into the atmosphere without anyone noticing them.
And natural “spring” water that is piped into the home is akin to “dug-well” drinking water.
Now “artesian” well water is a different story, but as far as I know, there are no “artesian” water wells in use that contain CH4 or H2S.
“Artesian” water can flow for hundreds of miles underground before it rises to the surface and outflows like a geyser.

Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 9:12 am

@samuel cogar: You state that their are no artesian wells that do not have Methane or H2S in them. I can say differently. On the Capitol grounds of the State Capitol of South Dakota there is a fountain which burns continuously because of Methane in the water. It is called “Flaming Fountain”; it has burned continuously since 1972 to just recently when it has become intermittent. From 1910 to 1950 it provided natural gas to heat the capitol building and parts of downtown Pierre, SD.

Tom in Denver
Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 10:43 am

These wells had always had shallow low pressure biogenic natural gas. In fact, the water wells were designed at the start with vents at the wellhead to vent off the natural gas. Fox was dishonest because he intentionally plugged up the vents and let the wells build up pressure for several days in order to get the natural gas to come out of the water faucet for his movie.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 1:03 pm

greymouser70, I didn’t say there wasn’t any, ….. I said I didn’t know of any.
And I’m pretty sure that I still don’t know of any, to wit:
Flaming Fountain at State Capitol of South Dakota
The Flaming Fountain Memorial is a fountain with a perpetually burning natural gas flame. It was installed to honor South Dakotan veterans
And just being a water fountain …… doesn’t mean that the source of the water is artesian.
You have a good day now.

Reply to  David Middleton
December 14, 2016 3:59 pm

@ samuel c. cogar (1:03 pm); The fountain is an artesian well As the linked article says

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  David Middleton
December 15, 2016 4:05 am

Thank you, greymouser70, that was an interesting read.
Like so: “From the drilling of the well in 1910 until the 1950s, it supplied natural gas to heat the Capitol building and other parts of Pierre.
HA HA, so we are both partly right.
You, ….. because it is an artesian water supply which contains NG.
Me, …… because its a drilled NG well that terminated in an artesian water source.
greymouser70, here in central West Virginia it’s a great source of coal, natural gas and some crude oil, …… with deep underground sources, ….. close to the surface sources and in some places ….. right at the surfaces sources ….. and individuals and producers have been digging and drilling for those natural resources for the past 150+ years, I’ll guess and say there is probably 200 NG wells within a 10 miles of where I live.
And if you live/own property which has “free NG rights” attached to the deed, …. you don’t have to bother to close your windows come winter time,
And the literal fact is, greymouser70, regardless of what the “fearmongering” lefties are claiming, …… iffen someone is in dire need of water, ….. and hires a “waterwell” driller to drill them a water well, ……. and the driller “hits” a pocket of NG, …… the drilling will immediately stop, …… the well will be “capped” …….. and piping will be installed to plumb the house for NG burning purposes ….. and then they will drill their water well in another location. Do you realize how much “FREE Natural Gas” is actually worth to a homeowner?

Reply to  David Middleton
December 15, 2016 2:41 pm

@samuel c. cogar: I don’t know whether the well was drilled originally for water well purposes or for NG. The article didn’t say. I am pretty sure the well taps the Dakota Sandstone whose recharge area is the Black Hills. So more than likely, it was drill for water well purposes. The fact that it contains NG is a side benefit..

Dodgy Geezer
December 14, 2016 5:41 am

I believe that there are likely some grounds for activists making claims which cannot be justified to be charged with fraud, in that they are gaining benefit from a known falsehood. I wonder if this is being considered anywhere?

December 14, 2016 5:43 am

Well done David, thanks.

Steve Fraser
December 14, 2016 5:54 am

The EPA move sounds like what happened with the 1990 FAR… The conclusion of the report was reversed.

December 14, 2016 5:54 am

666 pages of report the mark of what? /s

Steve Fraser
Reply to  stevekeohane
December 14, 2016 8:56 am

… Beastly….

Doug Danhoff
December 14, 2016 6:13 am

The facts are that nearly all fracking is occurring well below the level of water being used for human use, thus it has little or no impact on drinking water

December 14, 2016 6:33 am

One of the biggest things the incoming administration needs to do is CHANGE THE NARRATIVE that energy development and environmental integrity are mutually incompatible. This is a LIE that’s been fed to the public for more than a generation now by the radical greens and we need to turn the page. Fed up with “fake news,” the public at the moment is responding very rationally to FACTS. Let’s give ’em some!

The Great Walrus
December 14, 2016 6:37 am

“It defies all credulity…”
Credulity or credibility?

H. D. Hoese
December 14, 2016 6:41 am

Produced water with its products has been around since forever with lots of study and abatement. I have now retired students who worked with this. Who were on this “Independent Advisory Board” and more importantly what was their basis. There will always be problems but this board needs to be transported back in time. They may be “deniers” that will do more harm than good to their agenda.

Peter Miller
December 14, 2016 7:02 am

The United States is the most litigious on the planet.
So, if there was something seriously wrong with fracking, wouldn’t the ambulance chasers be lining up to sue?

December 14, 2016 7:03 am

This looks like mischeif by political appointees who know they will not be around to defend their actions, who wish to damage the incoming adminstration. It reminds me of LBJ’s comment on J. Edgar Hoover, who reportedly was not fired as it would be preferable to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. The EPA is leaving an unpleasant gift for the Trump appointees.

December 14, 2016 7:10 am

Both of the following statements are true:
1 – the process has no national “widespread, systemic impact” on drinking water.
2 – fracking could impact drinking water
It’s like saying:
1 – I will probably get to church and back safely
2 – I could get run over by an earth mover.
As far as I can tell, there are no plans to have an earth mover between my house and church today and, even if one popped up, I could probably avoid getting squished … but there’s still some small but finite chance.
For any project, it is possible to evoke any number of hobgoblins and other things that could go wrong. If we had to take them all seriously we couldn’t do anything. I think that’s the intent here.

Rhoda R
Reply to  commieBob
December 14, 2016 7:37 am

I agree, the intent is to shut down fracking entirely. An energy dependent USA help the Saudis and all the other OPEC nations as well as helping the leftists since a prosperous booming economy is something they find difficult to overcome.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  commieBob
December 14, 2016 2:48 pm

A movie is usually about the careers and income of it’s stakeholders.
A movie could provide some truthful analysis of it’s subject matter.

December 14, 2016 8:09 am

The Fracking hysteria was ignited by Russia, who are a huge gas supplier to Europe. They are/were concerned that if western European countries were to employ fracking on their domestic reserves, then Russia would lose market share. They employed a misinformation campaign to demonize fracking. This was expanded by the useful idiots of the left.

December 14, 2016 8:43 am

Commie Bob seems to be touching on a theme often exploited against the ignorant. State the true scary facts without any context as to the potential of that risk. True, fracking “incidents” could cause issues with drinking water, but what is the probability of occurrence in respect to the severity of the result.
We have been bombarded with “factual” scientific statements that are intended to scare the ignorant. When the Japanese nuclear reactors had their “incident” alarmist were quickly whipping up public sentiment against the industry by pointing out that nuclear fall-out was being detected drifting down onto the Pacific northwest coast of America. True, however what was purposefully omitted was that the level of radiation being detected was less than that emitted by a common banana.

Reply to  rocketscientist
December 14, 2016 9:50 am

I was on one forum last week, where several of the locals were going on and on about how the Pacific was soon to be a lifeless desert because of all the radiation leaking from Fukushima.

Martin A
December 14, 2016 8:45 am


December 14, 2016 8:48 am

Also no evidence that fracking has reversed a historical declining trend in atmospheric ethane

December 14, 2016 8:49 am

The BBC uses the word “controversial” for anything it doesn’t like. You know when the BBC uses the word that it is coming up with its biased view of a topic, i.e. propaganda.

Dr. Bob
December 14, 2016 9:32 am

Isn’t this the same tactic used in writing the Summary for Policy Makers for IPCC reports. Do a reasonably thorough job studying an issue and then use a political body to twist the conclusion to meet a political need. Seems like liberal thinking for almost all subjects they are involved with.

December 14, 2016 10:46 am

While “common” in the past 60 years, Fracking has been around almost as long as drilling has been. And the Earth Abides

Paul Penrose
December 14, 2016 10:52 am

More irrational fear mongering by the EPA. No surprises here.

Uncle Gus
December 14, 2016 11:49 am

“It defies all credibility for an advisory board to reverse the conclusions of a 1,200 page report, on a whim, just prior to publication… particularly if the reversal is based on the bastardization of the word “fracking.””
Is this really the first time the author has come across something like this?
He should take a look at the history of research into passive smoking…

December 14, 2016 11:03 pm

“This spring water was bottled on a planet where peanuts exist. Therefore it may contain traces of nuts.”

Steve Thatcher
Reply to  Richard A. O'Keefe
December 15, 2016 5:51 am

“may contain traces of nuts”
Translation: We can’t afford/be bothered to clean our equipment properly.

December 15, 2016 12:43 am

The EPA has a widespread, systemic, and negative impact on environmental science and research. That’s my conclusion.

December 15, 2016 3:26 am

Buses could kill you, therefor we need to ban buses.
Not only can buses kill people, they have. Causes: drunk drivers, incompetent drivers, icy roads, sun glare, poorly maintained buses, etc.

Johann Wundersamer
December 20, 2016 3:33 am

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