screen-shot-2014-09-04-at-9-43-51-am-6307007The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just cleared up a substantial “scientific uncertainty” cited in support of New York State’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of deep-underground natural gas deposits.

An EPA draft report released today finds that fracking has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

The EPA study, requested by Congress, was one of five ongoing “systematic investigations” cited by state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in his December “Public Health Review” of fracking. Zucker said in his report that while no single finding would be sufficient for him to green-light the practice, it “would help reduce scientific uncertainties.”

That finding comes as the state Department of Environmental Conservation prepares to promulgate regulations banning fracking in New York, in part based on Zucker’s recommendation.

The draft report acknowledges instances in which hydraulic fracturing has led to water contamination, but “they were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country,” according to the agency’s press release. Thomas A. Burke, Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, said the report’s authors sought to give state and local governments “a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources.”

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