EPA gives Republicans new ammo in fight against fracking regs

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new hydraulic fracturing report is entering national and state debates over regulating the practice and giving Republicans ammunition to fight the rules.

In the report, the EPA said that it found some instances of drinking water contamination caused by fracking, but overall, it found no “widespread, systemic impacts” on the drinking water supply.

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Republicans say that the EPA’s findings disprove the need for further restrictions on fracking.

Rep. Rob BishopRob BishopHispanic lawmakers face painful decision on Puerto Rico National ocean policy threatens new regulatory burdens House panel approves Puerto Rico debt relief MORE (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the report proves that the Interior Department’s fracking rules for federal land are unnecessary.

“After five years of study, the EPA learned exactly what the states, industry and even some of the more competent bureaucrats in the Obama administration have known for some time — hydraulic fracturing is not a threat to drinking water,” Bishop said in a statement.

“This report is damaging for the administration and contradicts a predominant claim the White House has used to justify a federal fracturing rule,” he continued.

Republicans have blasted the rule and the drilling industry has filed lawsuits to overturn it.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) used the research to call for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to roll back the state’s ban on fracking that he instituted last year after a years-long hiatus.

“I fully expect Gov. Cuomo to reverse his previous decision to ban fracking which was based upon controversial scientific studies and made to appease far left environmentalists,”

Collins said in a statement.

“Hardworking New Yorkers deserve the job opportunities and economic growth fracking has clearly produced in other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania,” he said.

Collins tweeted a link to a news report on the study to Cuomo, writing “not going to say I told you so.”

The Business Council of New York State agreed, calling on New York and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martins to allow fracking.

“Now that the EPA has confirmed what top scientists have said all along, that fracking is safe and has no widespread impact on drinking water, we are calling on Commissioner Martens and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to rescind the temporary ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State,” Heather Briccetti, the group’s president, said in a statement.

New York’s fracking ban has been extremely controversial, because parts of upstate New York sit on the gas-rich Marcellus and Utica shale formations, which have brought billions of dollars to neighboring Pennsylvania. 

But Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said the EPA study was not a stamp of approval.

“Today’s announcement will be spun by industry lobbyists as a clean bill of health for oil and gas developers around the country,” he said in a statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth, as EPA’s own findings have shown. Irresponsible oil and gas development puts water quality at risk for millions of Americans, and no amount of spin can change that.”