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Why The EPA Omitted Some Language From Its Fracking Report

Uncertainty regarding the connections between hydraulic fracturing and contaminated drinking water prompted the agency to remove controversial language from a new report on fracking.

Mnet 123224 Frackinglight

An Environmental Protection Agency official said that uncertainty regarding the connections between hydraulic fracturing and contaminated drinking water prompted the agency to remove controversial language from a new report on fracking.

A draft of the report released last year said that despite the potential for fracking to impact nearby water sources, problems were not "widespread" over the course of the EPA study. That language, however, was absent from the final report when it was issued last week.

The decision drew cheers from fracking critics but condemnation from the oil and gas industry, which called the reversal "absurd" and suggested that politics played a role.

EPA science adviser Thomas Burke disputed that characterization and told CBS News that the agency removed the language due to "gaps in information" about the impact of fracking on groundwater.

โ€œWhat we found is that although the overall incidents of impacts is low, that there are vulnerabilities,โ€ Burke said.

The result, however, left only vague conclusions to show for six years of research.

Environmental advocates all along pointed to individual cases of groundwater contamination in fracking-heavy regions and praised the EPA for taking those incidents into account.

Elizabeth Falconer, for example, told CBS that the tap water from her home west of Fort Worth, Texas, remains undrinkable despite installing a $30,000 filtration system.

The American Petroleum Institute, meanwhile, countered that the decision abandoned strong underlying data that showed that fracking โ€œis an engineering technology thatโ€™s not creating widespread systemic impacts to the environment."

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