Erik Milito's remarks at press press briefing ahead of EPA Study
Press briefing ahead of EPA Study
Erik Milito, API director upstream and industry operations
Thursday, November 17, 2016 – AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Good morning and thank you for joining us today.
The dramatic resurgence of the United States as an energy superpower over the past decade has provided tremendous benefits for our country, with significant savings in energy costs for American consumers, stronger national security, and environmental benefits from the application of advanced technologies and the increased use of clean-burning, abundant natural gas.
While becoming the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, industry has also reduced carbon emissions from power generation to their lowest level in more than 20 years – making it clear that environmental progress and energy production are not mutually exclusive.
None of this would be possible without hydraulic fracturing.
With 65 years of experience and numerous studies already completed, it is clear that fracking is safe.
The most comprehensive report comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. The six-year, multi-million dollar, national study, which was released as a draft Assessment report last year, concluded that fracking has not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water as it lifted economic fortunes for millions of Americans. The final copy of this report is due out before the end of the year, and it has plenty of supporting evidence for its conclusion.
Yet, hydraulic fracturing and peer-reviewed studies continue to face misinformed attacks on scientific conclusions that support the value and safety of the process. In its review of the EPA report, the Scientific Advisory Board commented that EPA should provide “quantitative support” for its finding, including, that it more clearly describe the systems of interest, the scale of impacts, and the definitions of terms. Volumes of quantitative support already exist today, and EPA’s draft assessment was based upon the quantitative support found in study after study and data point after data point referenced throughout its assessment.
To help demonstrate this, API commissioned a review by Catalyst Environmental Solutions on a report titled “Quantitative Support For EPA’s Finding of No Widespread, Systemic Effects to Drinking Water Resources from Hydraulic Fracturing.” Their work reviews a number of recent, water-related studies at various U.S. shale plays, taking in a range of conditions across the country. We are releasing this report to the media today and have already shared it with the EPA. It will be available on API.org following this press call.
The review shows that EPA’s finding of no widespread effects to drinking water quality is a reflection of the effectiveness of existing industry practices and state regulations. In short, industry practices and state regulations lower risk and limit incidents.
From Catalyst’s report:
“If there was a significant correlation between impaired drinking water resources and hydraulic fracturing, that connection would be manifested in the areas that EPA evaluated. This finding is corroborated by a large, credible body of case studies and scientific literature.”
EPA’s assessment, state and federal regulatory reviews, and dozens of recent peer-reviewed case studies underscore the existing oversight and safety of advanced hydraulic fracturing and modern horizontal drilling.
The EPA study addresses impacts from the national to the county level.
In noting that 25,000-30,000 new hydraulically fractured wells are created annually, EPA concluded that the few instances of potential impairment are neither systemic nor widespread. Its definition of drinking water --- any body of ground or surface water that could be used, now or in the future, for public or private use – is broader than most federal and state regulatory definitions.
The scale and wide net cast of the collected scientific research that went into the EPA study is important because, with anti-fracking activists seeking to politicize and change EPA’s conclusion, an advisory panel this summer recommended that the agency provide “quantitative support” for its finding.
Catalyst points out that the EPA “finding makes sense. The California Council on Science and Technology’s 2015 comprehensive study of the effects of hydraulic fracturing came to a similar conclusion as EPA, providing further quantitative validation.”
That support, and numerous additional studies, underscores the fact that EPA should retain the science and the facts and carry forward its original conclusion.
This is critical: The EPA must ensure that a report that will be viewed globally reflects the scientific evidence that exists. The focus must be on the facts and available science.
Hydraulic fracturing has generated economic growth in numerous states, including Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. New York and Maryland should be next. In Western Maryland, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties need the kind of economic growth and job opportunities that energy development can bring. The same is certainly true of the Southern Tier of New York.
In 1999, among other things, the U.S. Department of Energy identified the “protection of groundwater” as an environmental benefit of hydraulic fracturing. We now can add to that reduced greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air from reduced criteria pollutants.
Hydraulic fracturing is the backbone for a continued economic, environmental and energy development success story in the U.S. The documented science and the benefits to consumers are proof.
I am ready to take your questions.