By Emily Wurth
It is well known that drilling and fracking contaminate water and it’s happening all across the United States. Yet President Obama and his administration, including the Environmental Protection Agency, are not only letting this happen unchecked, they’re actively promoting and expanding fracking. That’s why we’ve long been blowing the whistle and demanding answers.
Last Thursday, a Resources for the Future Policy Leadership Forum featured a conversation with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Craig Stevens, whose water is contaminated from a gas pipeline, and I attended the forum hoping that we could ask Administrator McCarthy a single question: why won’t she meet with the families affected by water contamination from drilling and fracking for oil and gas?
Over the past year, we have been working closely with communities across the country where drilling and fracking have contaminated their drinking water. In three communities — Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming and Parker County, Texas — the EPA launched investigations into drinking water contamination and drilling and fracking, but then abandoned the investigations for various reasons.
One year ago, the coalition Americans Against Fracking and the Stop the Frack Attack network held a press conference in front of the White House with residents from those three negatively impacted communities. We delivered 250,00 petitions to EPA asking that the agency reopen the three investigations and provide the residents with safe drinking water. EPA staff met with the families that day.
However, since then, EPA Administrator McCarthy and her staff have refused to meet with affected residents, much less reopen these critical investigations. Collectively, we have sent in hundreds of thousands of petitions, made thousands of phone calls, sent a sign-on letter with more than 200 groups, but we have received no response.
So during the press conference after last week’s event with Administrator McCarthy, Pennsylvania resident Craig Stevens — a sixth generation land owner in Montrose, Pennsylvania — posed his question directly to Administrator McCarthy.
Transcript from the video:
Craig Stevens: Will you meet with the families in America who have been poisoned by fracking, like my home? You’ve met with the oil and gas industry many times but we’ve asked for two years for a meeting with you. I’m really appealing to you. We really need to meet with you and show you our evidence. Last year today, we met with your people.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Are you a press person?
Craig Stevens: No I’m not. I’m a poisoned… My water’s been poisoned by gas activity.
Associate Administrator in the Office of Public Affiars of EPA Tom Reynolds: Sir, we are trying to take questions from the media.
Craig Stevens: The media needs to hear this too.
Associate Administrator in the Office of Public Affairs of EPA Tom Reynolds: We can talk afterwards.
Administrator McCarthy quickly ran off after this press conference, yet again refusing to speak to Craig. But Craig and I did talk with the EPA’s Associate Administrator in the Office of Public Affairs, Tom Reynolds afterwards. After much persistence on our part, he agreed to look over the documentation and respond to us. But how long will that take?
Administrator McCarthy takes meetings with the oil and gas industry. It’s well past time that she should meet with Americans negatively affected by drilling and fracking. Take action here to ask Gina McCarthy to meet with the families affected by fracking.