Back in the early 2000s, the US Congress initially prohibited the EPA from protecting drinking water that may have been tainted by fracking, and denied their authority to uncover what chemicals companies were using in operating fracking sites. During George W. Bush’s administration, in 2005, the Energy Policy Act was instituted that confirmed the EPA study’s conclusion that fracking carried no hazards to drinking water. Despite concerns over the study, including scientists who disagreed with the conclusion, claiming that not enough evidence supported it, the government advocated the study.
Energy companies who operated oil and gas drilling and production benefited from exemptions to federal pollution guidelines for over 40 years, which precluded them from following regulations over hazardous waste, chemical-infused runoff from wells, and toxic air pollution from equipment used. Fracking also did not need monitoring under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Even though the EPA’s own contractor found flaws in the study, potential fracking risks to drinking water were dismissed. However, in December 2016, under the Obama administration, a new report was issued that stated that some fracking sites may contain contaminated drinking water, and listed what the risks to groundwater were unless safeguards were implemented. Unfortunately, the new study may not alter the current environmental regulations for fracking as complaints about contaminated water in states like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas continue to rise.