This week, various groups opposed to hydraulic fracturing and shale development gathered near the White House to call on the Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama to reopen investigations of water contamination in Dimock, Pa.; Parker County, Tex.; and Pavillion, Wyo. The gatherers totaled only a few dozen (if that), a sign that the claims of those in the anti-fracking community are more often fueled by rhetoric than reality. The sparse band included ideologues from Food and Water Watch, Earthworks and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Ironically, the repeated call from the group was “President Obama, it’s time to hear the facts.” Notably, there were very few facts present at the day’s event.
Here are a few of those facts that the handful of activists refused to acknowledge:
- Dimock, PA: While we could go on and on about the case in Dimock, the fact is that in July 2012 the EPA concluded the water in Dimock, PA was safe to drink – findings in line with previous water quality data from the EPA itself, state and local authorities, and Cabot Oil & Gas. According to EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin:
“The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action. Throughout EPA’s work in Dimock, the Agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water.”
- Parker County, TX: In Parker County, claims of methane contamination due to hydraulic fracturing against Range Resources – claims former EPA official Al “Crucify Them” Armendariz arranged in concert with local activists – were contradicted by state regulatory judgments and independent analyses. In 2012, as a result of clear scientific evidence showing its claims were without merit, the EPA dropped its case. After the EPA withdrew its case, the Texas Railroad Commission – which regulates oil and gas in Texas – also reaffirmed the lack of impact stating “Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater.”
- Pavillion, WY: In 2011, a draft EPA report theorized a link between hydraulic fracturing and local water quality issues in the town of Pavillion. The EPA’s initial findings were immediately criticized as flawed by Wyoming state regulators and even the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Findings from the U.S. Geological Survey also clearly contradicted EPA’s results. Then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also stated at the time that “We have absolutely no indication right now that drinking water is at risk,” a sentiment she repeated several months later when she said, “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Later, in June of 2013, the EPA announced it would no longer seek peer-review for its findings, and handed the investigation over to the state of Wyoming. Bottom line: If the EPA believed its preliminary conclusions were credible, it would have proceeded with peer-review. Instead, the EPA said it “does not plan to finalize or seek peer review…[n]or does the agency plan to rely upon the conclusions in the draft report.”
This is what the anti-fracking movement has been relegated to: A handful of activists who have been debunked at every turn, and whose only remaining strategy is to yell twice as loud and hope that the public will forget about their history of deception. If the attendance at this rally was any indication, they’re failing at even that.