Study: EPA's Probe Into Fracking's Effect on Drinking Water Isn't So Clean

The American Petroleum Institute's senior policy adviser told reporters this morning that the study reinforced previous industry concerns about the EPA study and raised new ones.

"A robust, thorough, careful study is important because it has the potential to affect the future course of shale energy development, which has enormous potential for improving our energy security and economy for decades to come," said API's Stephanie Meadows. "We’re not calling on EPA to stop its study. We’re calling on them to do it right."

Though opponents of fracking will dismiss the study for the fact that it was requisitioned by the industry, a Duke University study released today highlights just how its mixed findings can be spun either way.

The headline on Businessweek was "Pennsylvania Fracking Can Put Water at Risk, Duke Study Finds," while the New York Times headline was "Fracking Did Not Sully Aquifers, Limited Study Finds."

Researchers found that natural pathways in the rock bed can carry contaminants into the groundwater, but found no direct link between such contamination and shale-gas drilling operations in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Regardless, fracking opponents are getting ready to descend on Washington later this month to protest the drilling technique that they say causes all manner of calamities from health risks to earthquakes.

The "Stop the Frack Attack" rally on July 28 will call on Congress to stamp out fracking while pursuing clean-energy alternatives.

The event in the nation's capital sprang from protests by environmental activists and celebrities upset with fracking proposals in New York.

In Washington will be actor Mark Ruffalo, who got upset over his upstate N.Y. neighbors leasing their land to gas companies. "I realized if I didn’t do something, it would destroy the place I live. I’d rather be doing other things with my free time, but when I learned about what is going on with fracking, it really challenged me – like, am I a phony or not?" Ruffalo told Rolling Stone.

"Then I went to Dimock, Pa., which is the epicenter of the fracking disaster," Ruffalo continued. "I saw people who were suffering, whose lives have been ruined by this. I also saw the total failure of our political system, our social system. The fact that something like this can happen in America is unbelievable."

Others expected at the Washington rally include Ed Asner, Ed Begley Jr., and Margot Kidder. Eighty groups are said to be banding together for four "days of action" including lobbying, which will culminate in the march on the Capitol.

"We need to share our concerns about fracking with President Obama, Congress, and the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the frack attack," wrote Sarah Hodgdon at Treehugger. "If drillers can't extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas."

Rep. Harris, however, sees the Battelle study as the next step forward in proving that fracking is a safe and reliable extraction method.

"I hope and expect that EPA will work hard to address Battelle’s recommendations, and I look forward to following up with EPA on the status of this effort in the coming weeks," he said.