A study done by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 is drawing ire from green groups as well as EPA science advisors. The issue lies in the message that the White House tried to present as the finding of the study and that certain information was suppressed or misrepresented by the EPA in doing so. The Obama administration declared that there were no vast, long-term effects on drinking water in regions where there is hydraulic fracturing, a process which uses millions of gallons of water and chemicals to release natural gases trapped in underground rocks formations. The process is used in nine out every ten natural gas mines throughout the country.
With zero scientific evidence supporting the dismissal of the impact hydraulic fracturing has on the local water supplies, the EPA Scientific Advisory Board was quick to review the study. What they found were incidents of contamination that the EPA had outright ignored. As many as 15 spills happened across the country on a daily basis, in addition to waste disposal issues and cementing failures that happened below ground. All of this was essentially dismissed by the EPA as not being widespread or systematic issues.
In addition to the drinking water contamination debate, hydraulic fracturing also appears to be increasing seismic activity in areas where its use is prevalent. In the case of Oklahoma, a state which typically was not known for its earthquakes, the jump in activity has been staggering. From the period of 1975 through 2008, Oklahoma only recorded between one to three earthquakes yearly that were a 3.0 magnitude or greater. Between 2009 and 2013, the yearly total of magnitude 3.0 earthquakes in the state jumped to 40. Then, in 2015, the total jumped to an astronomical 6479. Most recently, on September 3rd, Oklahoma recorded its largest earthquake to date, at 5.8 on the Richter Scale. This increase in earthquakes has been attributed to the disposal of toxic wastewater through high pressure underground injections. During the increase in seismic activity in the area, wastewater injection volumes coincidentally also grew by more than 40%.
With all of the mounting evidence pointing toward the inherent dangers from hydraulic fracturing, a letter was sent to the EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. The letter was drafted on behalf of millions of members of environmental and public interest groups on national, statewide and local levels. The letter calls for the EPA to address the issues being brought forth, particularly that the EPA did in fact mislead the American public, possibly at the behest of the Obama administration.