LA Times: EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study

LA Times: EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study
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A must-read Los Angeles Times story by Neela Banerjee demonstrates that – once again – the Obama administration put the kibosh on a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) groundwater contamination, this time in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Though EPA said Dimock’s water wasn’t contaminated by fracking in a 2012 election year desk statement, internal documents obtained by LA Times reporter Neela Banerjee show regional EPA staff members saying the exact opposite among friends. 

“In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation…staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production,” writes Banerjee.

“The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that ‘methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’ The presentation also concluded that ‘methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work,” Banerjee further explained.

It’s essentially a repeat of Steve Lipsky’s water contamination by Range Resources in late-2010 in Weatherford, TexasIn that case, EPA conducted a taxpayer funded study, determined Range had contaminated his water, sued Range – and then proceeded to drop the suit and censor the study in March 2012

EPA also recently kicked the can down the road on a high-profile fracking groundwater contamination study in Pavillion, Wyoming, originally set to come out in 2014. That release is now expected in 2016, another election year. Just days after EPA‘s decision, a Duke University study again linked fracking to groundwater contamination in the Marcellus Shale.

“We don’t know what’s going on, but certainly the fact that there’s been such a distinct withdrawal from three high-profile cases raises questions about whether the EPA is caving to pressure from industry or antagonistic members of Congress,” Kate Sinding of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told the LA Times. 

Ed Rendell and Friends At Work Again?

Located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale basin, Dimock was featured prominently in both “Gasland” documentaries, as well as in “FrackNation,” the industry-funded film created to counter Josh Fox’s films, produced and directed by climate change deniers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney. 

In the case of “FrackNation,” McAleer used EPA‘s desk statement for propaganda purposes. He portrayed Craig and Julie Sautner – whose water was contamined by Cabot Oil and Gas – as “crying wolf” for expressing anger that EPA privately told them their water was contamined, then publicly stated that it wasn’t. 

LA Times: EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study
Steve Horn is a former Research Fellow and writer for DeSmog and a freelance investigative journalist based in San Diego, CA. He currently works as a climate reporter and producer for The Real News Network.

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