Forgive Lisa Jackson, if she is about now rethinking the wisdom of entering the fracking fracas in Dimock, Pennsylvania. The EPA is taking punches from all directions.
When the EPA announced in January it would deliver water to 4 families and conduct water testing of as many as 60 water wells, the gas drilling company under the microscope--Cabot Oil and Gas--greeted the EPA announcement with a both a critical press statement and a tough letter to the Wall Street Journal, saying that the EPA involvement was unwarranted and could make matters worse. Some industry supporters even saw the EPA actions in Dimock as an indication that the EPA supposedly opposed gas production and hydraulic fracturing.
By contrast, back in January, most environmentalists reacted triumphantly and welcomed the EPA into the controversy. That was then and not now.
Now that the water tests are back from 11 water wells, including 3 to which the EPA is delivering water, and show the water to be safe to drink, it's some environmentalists that are issuing tough denunciations of the EPA, while Cabot sings a different tune. Celebrity Mark Ruffalo goes so far to say the EPA has allowed its investigation to be employed as part of the "gas industry's spin machine" and darkly demands that "independent" scientists review its testing, suggesting that the EPA perhaps even distorted the testing.
As long as EPA is behaving professionally and independently of those pleading cases, facts always will turn the EPA from hero to villain or villain to hero, depending on whom they gore. Anyone who has sat in the regulatory hot seat is well aware of this pattern of being attacked from all directions, and facts are no shield. This pattern is also one reason that faith in government has reached dangerously low levels if society is to function reasonably.
As for me, I generally think more data and facts are better than less. The EPA testing in Dimock adds to a huge amount of testing done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and others. The EPA is not out to "get" the gas industry or be part of its spin machine. It decided to do this testing so that it could be assured of the water quality in the selected wells and report the results to the public. I welcome its test results, no matter what they show.