EPA Urged by Legislators for Valid Probe of Fracking Risks

There's a lot at stake in the outcome of the Environmental Protection Agency's Final Study Plan to Assess Hydraulic Fracturing: The future of the practice also known as "fracking" and the nations ability to continue to move forward toward energy independence.

Ten senators and two representatives, all Republicans, are pressing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to ensure the study is done as a "highly influential scientific assessment," according to The Oklahoman.

What Is a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment?

According to the Office of Management and Budget, a highly influential scientific assessment is one that must be a strict minimum of peer review standards over and above what a typical governmental study must provide. Reviewers must disclose any potential conflicts of interest and cannot be employed by the agency conducting the study. Committee selection policies must be conducted as specified by the National Academy of Sciences.

Because a study deemed to be a highly influential scientific assessment is a more thorough process than studies of lesser magnitude -- and more costly -- there are criteria that federal agencies use to determine what type of study will be undertaken. The Fort Worth Star Telegram says that among the criteria specified by the OMB, study results that are likely to have an impact of $500 million or more on the private or public sector qualify, as do reports that may be precedent-setting or controversial.

EPA Study

The EPA study is to determine the potential impacts that hydraulic fracturing might have on groundwater quality. The specific situation is a theorized link between groundwater contamination that has occurred in a Wyoming gas field site and the process of fracking, reports the Star-Telegram. Legislators are asking the reports be completed with the more strict criteria of a highly influential scientific assessment.

What Is the Importance of the Future of Hydraulic Fracturing to Oklahoma?

More than 100,000 gas/oil wells have been developed using hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, as reported in the 2011 Oklahoma Hydraulic Fracturing State Review. Fracking, according to the review, has been going on in the state for more than 60 years without evidence of groundwater contamination.

Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.