Saturday, February 29, 2020

Does hydraulic fracturing cause groundwater contamination?

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith
The U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee asked that question at an April 23 hearing and examined the science related to the issue.

“Opponents of hydraulic fracturing make claims based on the possibility and not the probability of associated risks," Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said. "The EPA has used this agenda-driven approach to wrongly assert a connection between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination. The allegations made headlines; the retractions were footnotes. The science overwhelmingly shows that hydraulic fracturing can be done in an environmentally safe manner.”

The hearing comes on the heels of previous water contamination investigations conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into allegations that Science, Space and Technology Committee members said were "baseless."

Witnesses at the hearing said allegations of environmental damage due to hydraulic fracturing were "overblown." They also said the accusations could not be backed up with any scientific evidence.

Other witnesses said they questioned the scientific validity of recent studies by the New York State Department of Health. Those studies led to a recommendation that hydraulic fracturing be banned statewide. White papers released with details about the ban recommendation said there was "strong evidence of political pressure from well-funded activist groups opposed to shale development in New York."

As the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing have moved forward, large amounts of previously unreachable oil and gas have been made accessible. In turn, there has been a marked increase in domestic energy production, which has led to environmental benefits, economic growth and reduced energy prices for Americans.

In the past, top Obama administration officials have testified there has never been any conclusive proof that hydraulic fracturing led to groundwater contamination.

An archived webcast of the hearing can be found online at the Science, Space and Technology Committee's website,

Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

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