“EPA found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances,” the agency stated in its report, released Tuesday. “The report identifies certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe.”
In most circumstances cited in the report, fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has the potential to leak chemicals into groundwater. However, the agency said it couldn’t fully assess the potential effects on water supplies locally or nationally nor could it determine the severity of those effects due to gaps and uncertainties in its data.
As a result of the report, the EPA asserted that it can “inform decisions” by policymakers in federal, state, local and Native American tribal governments, as well as communities “to protect drinking water resources now and in the future.”
The report was the EPA’s final public assessment on fracking under President Barack Obama’s administration, which leaves office in January.
Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has announced he will nominate Scott Pruitt, currently the state of Oklahoma’s attorney general, to head the EPA. Environmental groups have sharply criticized the choice, citing multistate lawsuits involving Pruitt against EPA polices aimed at countering the impact of climate change and enforcing federal clean-air and clean-water laws.