Water contamination is just one of the impacts felt by communities across the country, from Texas to Pennsylvania.”
The letter notes that while states largely are responsible for regulating “unconventional drilling operations,” the congressmen believe the EPA “has a key role to play in oil and gas development. Despite the industry’s exemptions from some of our bedrock environmental laws, the EPA does have the power to help ease the burden of directly impacted communities.”
The letter says people in the three named areas “all experienced the negative impacts of an under regulated drilling industry first hand. Each community was grateful when the EPA stepped in to help deal with their water contamination issues, and disheartened when the EPA stopped their investigations, leaving them with polluted water and little explanation.”
The letter continues: “We are writing to urge you to take any and all steps within your power to help these communities. The EPA was established to hold states accountable and guarantee baseline protection for the American public and shared environment, and these families deserve that protection. Members of these communities currently do not have safe, clean drinking water and need EPA’s help to address the ongoing water contamination issues in their homes and get EPA assurance once their water is clean and safe.”
In March 2012, the EPA dropped an emergency order issued in late 2010 against Range Resources, halting a federal court battle and the inquiry into the cause of the gas migration.
An EPA inspector general’s report released in December found that the agency dropped its order, in part, because the EPA was concerned about mounting legal costs and concerns about how the legal outcome could affect other enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Critics, however, have claimed the administration declined to pursue the case because of industry and political pressure.