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earth-shattering

EPA concludes fracking contaminates water after all

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed its conclusions about fracking's ability to contaminate local water supplies, The New York Times reports. While an earlier version of the EPA's study wrote that there is "no evidence that fracking systemically contaminates water," the line was deleted from the final publication because it could not be supported.

The new report found evidence of fracking contaminating water at every stage of the process, from "acquiring water to be used for fracking, mixing the water with chemical additives to make fracking fluids, injecting the chemical fluids underground, collecting the wastewater that flows out of fracking wells after injections, and storing the used wastewater," the Times writes. The agency reviewed 1,000 existing studies, published 13 peer-reviewed reports, and put six years behind their research to reach their conclusions.

The report could cause headaches for President-elect Donald Trump, who has signaled his intent to scale back regulations on fracking. The incoming EPA head, Scott Pruitt, also has a history of fighting regulations related to energy production. "It will be important during the confirmation process for senators to ask [Pruitt] if he will follow the recommendations of his agency's scientists, or continue to rely on industry spin," said Madeleine Foote, the legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters.

But "evidence of contamination is highly anecdotal and often overblown by the exaggeration often associated with litigation," said fossil fuel lobbyist Scott H. Segal. "The vast majority of third-party professional organizations and governmental officials have found shale development to be highly consistent with environmental protection and energy policy objectives."