House Science Committee wants the EPA to change its fracking study

A bill would force the EPA to add “objective estimates of the probability, uncertainty" of its conclusions

By Jillian Rayfield
Published August 1, 2013 5:14PM (EDT)

A bill being taken up by the House Science Committee would force the EPA to include language in its years-long study on fracking that adds “objective estimates of the probability, uncertainty and consequence of each identified impact, taking into account the risk management practices of states and industry.”

The bill, which is scheduled for mark-up on Thursday, was introduced by the Committee's Chair, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. As The Hill reported, in a hearing last week Smith accused the EPA of being "complicit" in a push to cut down on hydraulic fracturing, a process that uses chemicals to extract natural gas from rock.

From The Hill:

“The agency should base its work on sound science rather than regulatory ambition. However, if the agency fails to do this, a legislative remedy may be warranted to address the study’s deficiencies,” Smith added.

David Dzombak, who heads a hydraulic fracturing panel of the EPA’s outside Science Advisory Board, said while the study is not providing a broad “quantitative risk assessment,” the entire thing is nonetheless in a “risk framework.”

“Estimates or descriptions of probability, uncertainty, and consequence shall be as quantitative as possible given the validity, accuracy, precision, and other quality attributes of the underlying data and analyses, but no more quantitative than the data and analyses can support," the bill says.

The study is expected to be released for public and peer review in 2014.

The House Science Committee is known for being rather unfriendly toward science, with Smith once decrying network news for being “largely slanted in favor of global warming alarmists.”

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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