EPA chief vows ‘strong science’ on hydraulic fracturing

Building on these ongoing efforts, this budget requests $14 million in total to work collaboratively with the United States Geological Survey, the Department of Energy and other partners to assess questions regarding hydraulic fracturing. Strong science means finding the answers to tough questions, and EPA's request does that.

Her comments come amid a wider political battle over fracking, which involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations in order to open up cracks that enable trapped gas to flow.

The method is enabling a gas production boom in many states but bringing fears of water pollution alongside it. Energy industry officials and many Republicans say the method is well-regulated at the state level, while environmentalists are pushing for new federal safeguards.

Industry groups and Republicans have pushed back against efforts to expand federal oversight, including planned Interior Department rules to govern fracking on public lands.

Jackson is slated to appear Tuesday morning before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Her agency’s fiscal year 2013 budget request seeks $8.34 billion, which is roughly $105 million below current funding.