Senators David Vitter (R-LA.) and James Inhofe (R-OK) are calling for outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to answer questions about an EPA report detailing hydraulic fracturing and its scientific impact. While a draft of the report had been released in December of 2011, the full report has now been delayed a third time and Vitter and Inhofe want to know why. On the report, Senator Inhofe said, “I have had major concerns about this report from the very beginning” adding, “using shoddy science to pursue an agenda that prevents America from responsibly using our own energy resources is unacceptable.” Senator Vitter was equally frustrated given the “positive progress with hydraulic fracturing – arguably the brightest spot in our otherwise slumping economy.”
In their letter to Lisa Jackson, both Senators Vitter and Inhofe listed the following concerns they had with the draft version of the report:
• Why EPA ignored multiple data sources in its draft report that document long-standing, naturally occurring problems such as high sodium, high sulfate, and naturally produced methane gas with groundwater in the Pavillion area;
• Numerous documented instances of poor quality sampling and laboratory methods in which even blank samples were routinely contaminated;
• The use of a very limited and incomplete data sets to draw technically inadequate conclusions;
• Reliance on data from two EPA monitoring wells – neither of which tested the water quality in the aquifers used by residents – that were completed in natural gas reservoirs;
• Failure to ensure integrity in EPA’s monitoring wells where many organic and synthetic organic chemicals that were detected were likely introduced during the drilling, completion, testing, and sampling phases;
• Failure of EPA to follow United States Geological Survey recommendations for monitoring well drilling and sampling;
• Failure of the Agency to adequately recognize the local geology and hydrogeology of the Wind River Formation;
• Failure of EPA to rule out or study possible other sources of groundwater contamination; and
• Focusing the report entirely on hydraulic fracturing while failing to address the needs of the landowner’s water supply issues.
Allowing the EPA to continually delay the release of such an important report is not only troubling, but also potentially damaging to the economy. Hydraulic Fracturing represents one of the best opportunities the United States has to unleash a new energy revolution.