“It’s no surprise that right before a shift in administration the EPA conveniently changes its mind on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies,” Tuesday’s release quoted Smith as saying.
The chairman of the House of Representatives’ Science, Space and Technology Committee added, “I look forward to working with the next administration to enact critical reforms to put EPA back on course in pursuing transparency and sound science.”
In 2015, the agency issued an initial assessment that there was no evidence fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, causes groundwater contamination. On Tuesday, however, the EPA released a new report that concluded scientific evidence exists to show that fracking can pollute drinking-water resources.
The report was the EPA’s final public assessment on fracking under President Barack Obama’s administration, which leaves office in January.
President-elect Donald Trump has announced he will nominate Scott Pruitt, currently the state of Oklahoma’s attorney general, as EPA administrator. 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.
In fracking, underground deposits of oil and gas are extracted by blasting apart shale rock through high-pressure injection of water and chemicals. In addition to potential groundwater contamination from the chemicals, scientists have found that fracking causes below-ground rocks to shift, potentially increasing seismic activity including earthquakes.