So even the Environmental Protection Agency now concedes that fracking is safe, which won’t surprise anyone familiar with the reality of unconventional oil and natural gas drilling in the U.S. But if no less than the EPA is saying this, then the political opposition doesn’t have much of a case left.
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” the EPA observes in a 1,399-page report and multiple appendices. By mechanisms, the researchers mean the practice of injecting water and chemicals into shale at high pressure to extract oil or natural gas.
The environmental movement has stoked speculative fears about chemical mixes leaching into aquifers, poisoned potable water and toxic spills. States including New York, Maryland, California and Vermont have used this pretext for fracking moratoriums or bans. Yet the EPA study is the most exhaustive review ever conducted of the scientific literature and fracking in practice. Dozens of researchers spent five years and likely tens of millions of dollars.