WASHINGTON Dec 25 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency was criticized in an internal report for
dropping charges that Range Resources Corp was polluting
drinking water while "fracking" for natural gas.
Range is using the hydraulic fracturing technique in Parker
County, Texas where one homeowner complained in August 2010 that
he could set his drinking water on fire.
Six U.S. senators had asked the agency's internal watchdog -
the Office of the Inspector General - to evaluate a 2012
decision to drop an order that had forced Range to provide
drinking water to residents, and stop contamination.
The EPA withdrew its order in March of that year after legal
action by the company.
That decision was in line with its own rules, the report
said, but the agency should have been tougher with the company,
and more critical of the data it used.
Tests of 20 wells near the drilling site should have been
conducted more broadly, and the EPA should have gone to greater
lengths to make sure it trusted Range's data.
The report issued a number of formal recommendations for the
agency which the EPA has already agreed to act upon them.
"The EPA agreed with and provided corrective actions that
address our recommendations. All recommendations are resolved
with corrective actions underway," the report said.
In fracking, companies blast large amounts of sand and water
laced with chemicals underground to free oil and natural gas.
Environmentalists say this can pollute water and air.
The report, which was released late on Tuesday, was dated
(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)