WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency told a House committee Tuesday that she favored natural gas production and said she didn't know of any “proven case” in which hydraulic fracturing had affected drinking water.
Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, also told Rep. James Lankford that natural gas companies should be well aware of the study being done by the agency on hydraulic fracturing because their input has been solicited.
Jackson testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which released separate reports on energy this week.
The Republican majority report accused the Obama administration of trying to raise energy prices by stifling domestic oil and gas production and pursuing climate change policies, while Democrats said excessive speculation in the oil futures market was behind recent spikes in oil prices.
The reports, and the committee hearing, extended the partisan debate that has been ongoing in Washington since gasoline prices started rising weeks ago.
Jackson and an Interior Department official defended the Obama administration's record in approving new leases and permits for offshore drilling in the year since the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. David Hayes, deputy Interior secretary, said production in the Gulf had been essentially stable since the accident.
Jackson sought to counter Republican charges that the EPA wanted to slow natural gas production by seeking to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process, in use for decades, involves injecting chemicals, water and sand into a well to fracture rock and release gas.
Jackson said natural gas creates less air pollution than other fossil fuels “so increasing America's natural gas production is a good thing.”