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The Fate Of EPA's Fracking Study Under Trump

In these opening days of President Donald Trump’s administration, environmental discussions have focused on the efforts to address climate change, define waters subject to federal jurisdiction and reduce the size of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But a little over a month ago, in the waning days of the Obama administration, the EPA released a long-awaited report on a topic of critical importance to the nation’s energy future: hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing is an oil and gas extraction technique, often combined with horizontal drilling, that involves injection of pressurized fluids and proppants to create and maintain fissures in rocks containing hydrocarbons. First developed in the late 1940s and further refined over the decades, the technique came to broad public attention in the mid-2000s, when it began to be used to extract oil and gas in the Marcellus Shale, a geologic hydrocarbon formation spanning multiple Appalachian states and close to major population centers.

When Congress first tasked the EPA in 2009 with studying the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, pundits on both sides of the debate thought there would be an independent, comprehensive, scientific study of the oil and gas extraction technique.

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