The PJ Tatler

EPA Chief Questioned on Impartiality of Board to Review Agency's Fracking Study

Republicans on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee are flagging concerns about transparency and balance in the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming study on fracking.

The EPA has selected a Science Advisory Board panel of experts to review “Progress Report: Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources,” its “highly influential scientific assessment” that is due out before the end of the year.

However, a previous review panel called by the EPA didn’t include any experts with technical experience in hydraulic fracturing.

The public nomination process for this review board closed on Sept. 11.

“Given the importance of this study and the potential implications it could have for oil and gas production in the U.S., we urge EPA to ensure selection of a balanced panel with relevant technical expertise, and one that does not unnecessarily exclude nominees with relevant (and, in fact, essential) industry experience,” Science Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and committee Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.) wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today.

The members asked Jackson what steps will be taken to “ensure that persons with technical expertise and operation experience in hydraulic fracturing will be included on the 2012 panel.”

As well as experts with fracking experience, the GOPs want to ensure there is adequate state, local, and tribal representation on the review board.

The seven-page letter requests that Jackson detail by Nov. 1 the criteria for appointing impartial members to the review board.

Hall and other committee members introduced legislation last month that would reform the EPA’s review board process, including greater transparency and limits on non-scientific policy advice.