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Oklahoma senators want federal fracking study to meet strict scientific standards

Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn are among 10 Republican senators who sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Friday about a report that linked hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL ccasteel@opubco.com Modified: January 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm •  Published: January 20, 2012
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Oklahoma's senators joined eight other Republicans on Friday in urging the Environmental Protection Agency to require the strictest scientific standards in judging a high-stakes study over whether hydraulic fracturing contaminated ground water in Wyoming.

Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, joined a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson saying that the outcome of the agency's report could have a major financial impact on the oil and gas industry.

The senators say that should trigger a decision by Jackson that the study is a “highly influential scientific assessment” subject to “the most rigorous, independent and thorough external review process.”

Inhofe said Friday, “On December 8, I spoke with Administrator Jackson on the phone to ask if she would proceed with the Pavillion study under the requirements of a (highly influential scientific assessment). I have yet to receive her answer.

“I hope that after receiving this letter, Administrator Jackson will agree to our reasonable request. If she does not, the Pavillion study can have no credibility.”

In a draft report in December, the EPA for the first time drew a link between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination. The report came after a three-year study of a well in Pavillion, Wyo., and concluded that chemicals found in the aquifer were consistent with those used in “fracking” jobs.

The draft report was opened for public comment and peer review. It was immediately denounced by the oil and gas industry — and questioned by some Wyoming state officials and the company that operated the well — but embraced by environmental groups that are pushing for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

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