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 on 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 advisor at the EPA, on a call with reporters Tuesday.
Burke added, however, that when it comes to a “national, systemic conclusion” about the impacts of fracking, “that’s a different question that this study does not have adequate evidence to really make a conclusive, quantified statement.”