After a four-year study, the EPA had issued a June 2015 report that concluded that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could be carried out safely and did not generally pose a threat to water supplies.
“EPA’s draft study will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” said Thomas Burke, deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, according to The Wall Street Journal.
However, EcoWatch reports that Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has received 2,309 water complaints from 17 of 40 counties where fracking took place. Of those, 1,275 can now be viewed by the public, thanks to the investigations of non-profit Public Herald. The sheer number of complaints casts a shadow over EPA’s claims, since Pennsylvania’s official tally of water degradation is only 271 for all 40 fracking counties in the state.
A water source can be considered to suffer from water degradation in Pennsylvania if it is within 2,500 feet of a fracking well, and is recorded to either have reduced water volume or contain a “constituent” in the water supply within six months of drilling activity taking place.