Earlier this week, Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD), and Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, requesting additional information on EPA's planned study on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. The letter continues the Committee's oversight of the Agency as it moves forward with this Administration's systematic attack on domestic energy production.
In response to questions submitted for the record from the Committee's May 11, 2011 hearing, EPA officials assured the Committee that EPA's efforts in developing the draft and final study plan would be open, transparent and include appropriate incorporation of peer-review and quality assurance measures. The letter points out that there have been several instances in which these commitments have been ignored, including withholding information gathered by EPA Technical Workshops from the public and the EPA Science Advisory Board. Specifically, the letter states, "the level of detail provided during the public outreach events was limited at best--a fact documented by the Science Advisory Board's (SAB) finding that "the [draft] Study Plan provides inadequate detail on how to address the overall research questions.'"
Furthermore, the letter questions to what extent data collection has already begun despite the fact that the study plan has yet to be finalized. The letter states that , "despite the absence of a final Study Plan, EPA's "data collection activities demonstrate that EPA has already initiated the Study." The letter continues, "These actions appear to directly contravene the assurances this Committee received only weeks ago, and make it impossible for EPA staff to determine if these activities even meet the goals of the Study." By moving forward, EPA "ignores the requirement for proper protocols and standards to be in place prior to such action to ensure the validity and accuracy of the data." In the hopes that the Agency will honor the commitments made to the Committee, the letter goes on to state, "The Committee trusts that EPA will suspend any data collection requests, activities, or sampling until such time as the necessary Quality Assurance Project Plans are prepared, reviewed, approved and issued for public comment."