Under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, hydraulic fracturing is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Should it be?

Little research on hydraulic fracturing’s potential impacts on drinking water exists. A recent study out of Stanford suggests, however, that there may be some reason for concern.

The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, looked at the impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations near the small community of Pavillion, Wyoming. This is the first study that has found hydrauling fracturing operations near Pavillion have had a clear impact to underground drinking water sources. These impacts were found to be caused by practices common to the hydraulic fracturing industry.

The study was based on publically available records and documents obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Read the full Stanford University News release here.

To learn more about the state of the research, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began studying potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water in its Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. As stated in the EPA’s December 2012 progress report, 18 research projects were underway. The draft assessment used over 700 sources of scientific information to give a complete survey of scientific information available on potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources available at the time. Read that here.

The home page for the EPA’s study can be found here. Among the information are easy-to-understand Hydraulic Fracturing Study Fact Sheets explaining the project’s findings.