Maybe the Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to recognize that natural-gas fracking isn't as dangerous to drinking water as many in the agency may have thought. That's my real takeaway from the EPA's decision last week to back away from its slamming of Range Resources (RRC) for allegedly polluting drinking-water wells in Texas.
The EPA has been on a one-agency wrecking crew for months now against the process of fracking to bring difficult-to-drill shale oil and gas up to the surface.
The agency had seemed determined to try to stop fracking, by prejudging the process. In fact, it is almost as if the EPA decided to take its marching orders from Gas Land, a movie passing itself off as a documentary that presented so-called conclusive evidence that fracking causes your drinking water to catch on fire.
But on Friday, the EPA went back on the lawsuit, basically admitting that there was no linkage between Range's fracking and the contamination.
At the same time, the EPA acknowledged that it needs to retest the results of a fracking case recently brought in Wyoming, where the agency was quick to fault Encana (ECA), another responsible actor, for polluting drinking water.
Could this be the beginning of a less adversarial, more thoughtful EPA that isn't out to stop an amazing process that has been used more than a million times in this country without one instance of polluted water until the EPA ginned up these examples?
Let's hope so.
I had feared that the EPA was on the verge of saying, "Let's stop fracking until we know for certain how bad it is." Now it looks like the EPA is recognizing that maybe it's not so bad after all. Two cheers for an agency that had let anti-fossil-fuel ideology get in the way of rational thinking. Let's hope that the EPA will be as willing to leak positive findings about fracking as well as negative ones, now that it recognizes that the negatives weren't based on fact, just on bias.