Gabriel Nelson and Mike Soraghan, E&E reporters
"Put on the defensive by a new report claiming that U.S. EPA scaled back its study of the potential health threats of natural gas drilling in response to pressure from industry, Administrator Lisa Jackson insisted today on Capitol Hill that she won't let politics trump science.
A series published this week in The New York Times has investigated federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a technique that has opened up massive reserves of natural gas across the country. EPA is planning to launch a two-year study on the environmental and health impacts of the process, but some areas of study that were suggested by agency scientists were stripped from the final research plan because of pressure from the oil and gas industry, according to an article published today (Greenwire, March 3).
Tomorrow, Jackson is headed to Pennsylvania, one of several states that sit on top of the vast, gas-filled rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, she told members of the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on the agency's budget today.
She described the meeting with federal officials at EPA's regional office in Philadelphia as an effort to understand the "state of play" at the Region 3 headquarters, which has been at the center of the controversy. Despite what several agency attorneys and scientists told the Times, the agency is committed to sound science, Jackson said.
"I need to speak to the professionals out in the Philly office and ensure that they hear from the top of this organization that there is no 'Look the other way, stand down,'" she said. "We intend to do our jobs."' More>>>>