Industry & Politicians Seek to Affect the U.S. EPA Methodologies

by Duane Nichols on June 7, 2015

Large Spills, Leaks, Casing Failures Happen

“In praise of the science” — Too much politics in our federal agencies

From the Editorial on the Opinion Page, Morgantown Dominion Post, June 7, 2015

Another EPA study, another EPA overreaching finding. No, on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study that acknowledged what everyone knew. Everyone as in the gas and oil industry and its supporters, in politics and elsewhere.

One U.S. senator, who once compared the EPA to the Gestapo, described the report as “the latest in a series of failed attempts” by the Obama administration to link fracking to polluted drinking water. Never mind, that the EPA was formerly the devil’s spawn of the Obama administration, according to that senator and many in that industry.

Interestingly, that industry and its supporters are not championing another study. Also this week, a new study from University of Pittsburgh’s researchers found women living close to areas of high-density natural gas operations are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights than women living farther from such operations.

Let’s be clear. We, for one, have suspected for years that fracking posed a threat to drinking water and our water resources. However, we are willing to accept science: Fracking has not caused widespread harm to drinking water.

That study did cite instances where drinking water was affected by fracking, yet that number was small. The EPA insists that the question this study answered was not whether fracking was safe or unsafe.

Its purpose was to study “how do we best reduce vulnerabilities so we can best protect our drinking water and water resources.”

No one needs a study to know that in the past decade that the EPA has become an easy mark for criticism from across the board. But especially by some industry lobbyists, uh, rather, members of Congress and the Legislature. (We get them confused.)

Has the EPA made mistakes, implemented some misguided policies and overreached at times? Absolutely. However, since its creation, in 1972, the EPA is the primary reason for ending a range of industries’ best-worst practices.

Few who were not young adults and older then can understand how much has changed. Just think of our environment then and today in these terms: Night and day.

Still, it’s odd, how this agency is everyone’s scapegoat for everything, except when it agrees with them. Though some assert that the EPA is a tool of the Obama administration we don’t buy that.

Men and women grounded in science don’t take direction from politicians, or should not. It’s counter-intuitive to act according to politics and agendas, rather than research and data.

Science is no game where we can afford to accept or deny its results. Nor should clean water ever become a political football.


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