GAO: Fracking Could Threaten Clean Drinking Water

Agency faults EPA for inconsistent inspections, guidance.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office suggests the federal Environmental Protection Agency has fallen somewhat short in its duties to ensure that  gas production in Pennsylvania — using the “fracking” process, particularly — leaves behinds safe, clean drinking water.

StateImpact Pennsylvania reports:

The GAO faults the EPA for inconsistent on-site inspections and guidance that dates back to the 1980s. Of the more than 1,800 class II wells in Pennsylvania, the GAO reports only 33 percent were inspected in 2012. Some states, including California, Colorado and North Dakota, require monthly reporting on injection pressure, volume and content of the fluid.

The GAO also faulted the EPA for poor data collection.

StateImpact adds: “Much of Pennsylvania’s fracking waste water gets shipped to Ohio, since the Keystone state has just seven operating oil and gas waste disposal wells. Since January, the EPA has issued permits for three more waste water injection wells in Clearfield, Elk and Indiana Counties. All are being challenged by local communities. A fourth permit for an injection well in Venango County has received final approval, but is not yet active.”

The GAO report can be found here.