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Peer-reviewed analysis released day after HB40 forces Denton City Council to yield fracking oversight to state

Washington, DC & Denton, TX — A peer-reviewed study today reveals widespread groundwater pollution in the Barnett shale from fracking chemicals. Directly countering the EPA study released earlier this month, the University of Texas at Arlington study is accepted for publication in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“This study suggests the Environmental Protection Agency is taking a “see no evil” approach to fracking water pollution,” said Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel. She continued, “The University of Texas, working independent of the oil and gas industry, found evidence of widespread groundwater pollution connected to fracking. The EPA, working for years with the oil and gas industry to study the same issue, managed not to find that evidence in its study released earlier this month. Perhaps that’s because President Obama’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy requires favoring oil and gas over the clean, renewable energy our communities and water really need.”

The study, a collaboration between the University of Texas Arlington and Inform Environmental LLC, surveyed 550 wells in the Barnett Shale area in proximity to unconventional oil and gas wells (fracking). In 381 of the wells the study found BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) that are not naturally occurring and are used in oil and gas development. 34 of the wells were polluted by benzene, a strong carcinogen.

Late last night, the City of Denton, Texas was forced to repeal its ordinance enacting the fracking ban passed in November by ballot initiative. HB40, signed into law by Governor Abbott in May, effectively removed Texas communities’ long-standing right to govern oil and gas development, leaving state regulators solely responsible for protecting the public.

“Fracking water pollution isn’t a surprise to people living with fracking,” said Earthworks Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson. She continued, “But it must be a surprise to Texas regulators, who claim to have never found any. Denton was forced to repeal its ban last night. Now Denton and all Texas communities are in the hands of state government, which seems bound and determined to protect the oil and gas industry, not the public. What this study really shows is why communities must have local control to protect their own health and safety.”

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