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EPA Reverses Course Highlights Fracking Contamination Of Drinking Water

Co-reported by Tom Scheck of APM Reports and Scott Tong of Marketplace.

WASHINGTON — In a reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of a six-year, $29 million study today, highlighting the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing has caused some contamination to drinking water resources across the country.

The federal agency dropped a controversial phrase from an earlier draft of the study that said the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking has not led to "widespread, systemic impacts" on drinking water resources.

The shift suggests there is even more uncertainty among government officials about the safety of fracking after the intensive study by the nation's leading environmental agency. It also puts the EPA at odds with the oil and gas industry and an incoming Trump Administration that has vowed to further deregulate fracking.

How the EPA changed emphasis

In June 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft of a major study on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. In changes made by top EPA officials at the last minute, the news release announcing the draft of the study (left) emphasized that scientists had found no "widespread, systemic impacts" on the nation's drinking water supplies. On Dec. 13, when the EPA released the final version of the study, a news release instead emphasized the conclusion that fracking can affect drinking water.

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John Biethan AlkaWay USA