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Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing a draft assessment today on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing activities on drinking water resources in the United States. The assessment, done at the request of Congress, shows that while hydraulic fracturing activities  in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water. The assessment follows the water used for hydraulic fracturing from water acquisition, chemical mixing at the well pad site, well injection of fracking fluids, the collection of hydraulic fracturing wastewater (including flowback and produced water), and wastewater treatment and disposal [].

“EPA’s draft assessment will give state regulators, tribes and local communities and industry around the country a critical resource to identify how best to protect public health and their drinking water resources,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”

EPA’s review of data sources available to the agency found specific instances where well integrity and waste water management related to hydraulic fracturing activities impacted drinking water resources, but they were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country. The report provides valuable information about potential vulnerabilities, some of which are not unique to hydraulic fracturing, to drinking water resources, but was not designed to be a list of documented impacts. 

These vulnerabilities to drinking water resources include:

water withdrawals in areas with low water availability;

hydraulic fracturing conducted directly into formations containing drinking water resources;

inadequately cased or cemented wells resulting in below ground migration of gases and liquids;

inadequately treated wastewater discharged into drinking water resources;

and spills of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic fracturing wastewater, including flowback and produced water.

Also released today were nine peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports (  These reports were a part of EPA’s overall hydraulic fracturing drinking water study and contributed to the findings outlined in the draft assessment.   Over 20 peer-reviewed articles or reports were published as part of this study []. 

States play a primary role in regulating most natural gas and oil development. EPA’s authority is limited by statutory or regulatory exemptions under the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Where EPA’s exemptions exist, states may have authority to regulate unconventional oil and gas extraction activities under their own state laws.

EPA’s draft assessment benefited from extensive stakeholder engagement conducted across the country with states, tribes, industry, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community and the public to ensure that the draft assessment reflects current practices in hydraulic fracturing and utilizes all data and information available to the agency.

The study will be finalized after review by the Science Advisory Board and public review and comment. The Federal Register Notice with information on the SAB review and how to comment on the draft assessment will be published on Friday June 5, 2015.

For a copy of the study, visit  

 High broadband adoption rates bring about economic growth in rural areas

The digital divide, the disparity in adoption of broadband between rural and urban households, has increased, especially for the elderly and the poor. High broadband adoption rates bring about economic growth in rural areas, and federal policies to address the problem usually involve funding initiatives to provide more broadband access. "In fact, of the $7.2 billion made available for broadband funding during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, over 90 percent was focused on providing infrastructure," Brian Whitacre reports for The Daily Yonder.

However, according to recent research, the problem needs to be addressed through encouraging broadband adoption, not just increasing availability. A Current Population Survey asked why people don't use broadband. "No need" was the top response for rural households, and "not available" accounted for fewer than 5 percent of the responses in 2011. "The 'no need' response has increased over time while the 'not available' response has decreased," Whitacre writes. Lack of demand—not supply—of broadband is the chief reason behind the gap.


The Daily Yonder chart showing respondents' reasons for not using broadband.

To further examine the divide, "we used a technique that allows us to predict hypothetical broadband adoption rates," Whiteacre writes. "If we gave rural characteristics (such as education, income, age, etc.) to urban households—what would happen to the urban adoption rate? . . . Similarly, if we replaced urban levels of broadband availability (which are typically very good) with those found in rural areas (which are typically not as good), what would happen to the urban adoption rates?"

The results of the study predict that if rural households had socioeconomic characteristics typical of urban ones, 52 percent of the percentage point gap in the digital divide would vanish, and if urban households had broadband infrastructures typical of rural areas, 38 percent of the gap would vanish. (Read more)

Written by Melissa Landon


APRIL 20, 2015

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. – The East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium (EKSC) will premiere a new full-dome planetarium show on Saturday, April 25, in conjunction with national Astronomy Day.

“SUNSTRUCK” takes viewers through the wonders of the sun, explores its incredible energy and how it is even threatening our technology and way of life. The show, which is only available in a handful of planetariums across the globe, was produced by the Michigan Science Center with a grant from NASA.

The EKSC will open at noon with hands-on activities, planetarium shows and solar observing (weather permitting). Admission is free and door prizes will be given away.

For more information, contact Steve Russo, director of the EKSC, at (606) 889-4809 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


National Mobile Cramming Settlements Now Total $353 Million... 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 12, 2015) - Attorney General Jack Conway announced today that his Office of Consumer Protection Division — along with the Attorneys General of the other 49 States and the District of Columbia, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Communications Commission — reached settlements with Sprint Corporation (Sprint) and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (Verizon), that include $158 million in payments and resolve allegations that Sprint and Verizon placed charges for third-party services on consumers’ mobile telephone bills that were not authorized by the consumers, a practice known as “mobile cramming.”

Consumers who have been “crammed” often have charges, typically $9.99 per month, for “premium” text message subscription services (also known as PSMS subscriptions) such as horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores that the consumers have never heard of or requested. The Attorneys General allege that cramming occurs when carriers place charges on consumers’ mobile telephone bills or deduct them from consumers’ prepaid accounts for third-party products without consumers’ knowledge and/or authorization.

Sprint and Verizon are the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into nation-wide settlements to resolve allegations regarding cramming. Attorney General Conway announced similar settlements with AT&T in October of 2014 ($105 million), and T-Mobile in December of 2014 ($90 million). All four mobile carriers announced they would cease billing customers for commercial PSMS in the fall of 2013.

“These settlements will help protect Kentucky consumers from unauthorized third-party charges on their mobile telephone bills,” said Attorney General Conway said. “I encourage anyone who was affected by mobile cramming through Sprint or Verizon to submit a claim through the consumer redress programs required by these settlements.”

Under the terms of the settlements, Sprint will pay $68 million and Verizon will pay $90 million. Of these amounts, Sprint and Verizon are required to provide $50 million and $70 million, respectively, to consumers who were victims of cramming. Sprint and Verizon will each distribute refunds to harmed consumers through redress programs under the supervision of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Sprint will also pay $12 million to the Attorneys General and $6 million to the Federal Communications Commission, and Verizon will pay $16 million to the Attorneys General and $4 million to the Federal Communications Commission. Kentucky will receive $395,009.69 for its participation in the Sprint and Verizon settlements.

Consumers may submit claims under the redress programs by visiting (Sprint) or (Verizon). On those websites, consumers may submit claims, find information about refund eligibility and how to obtain a refund, and can request a free account summary that details PSMS purchases on their accounts. Consumers who have questions about the redress programs may visit the program websites or call the settlement administrators at: (877) 389-8787 (Sprint) or (888) 726-7063 (Verizon).

The settlements, like the settlements entered into by AT&T and T-Mobile in late 2014, require Sprint and Verizon to stay out of the commercial PSMS business—the platform to which law enforcement agencies attribute a large share of the mobile cramming problem. Under each of the four settlements, the carriers must also take a number of steps designed to ensure that they only bill consumers for third-party charges that have been authorized, including the following:

- The carriers must obtain consumers’ express consent before billing for third-party charges, and must ensure that consumers are only charged for services if the they have been informed of all material terms and conditions of their payment.

- The carriers must give consumers an opportunity to obtain a full refund or credit when they are billed for unauthorized third-party charges.

- The carriers must inform their customers when they sign up for services that their mobile phone can be used to pay for third-party charges, and must inform consumers of how those third-party charges can be blocked if the consumers do not want to use their phone to pay for third-party products.

- The carriers must present third-party charges in a dedicated section of consumers’ mobile phone bills, must clearly distinguish them from the carriers’ own charges, and must include information in that same section about the consumers’ ability to block third-party charges.

Considering these two settlements and the previously announced settlements with AT&T and T-Mobile, the national mobile cramming settlements with the four mobile carriers have called for refunds of about $290 million to consumers nationwide.

FRIDAY, APRIL 03, 2015

Providing broadband access to rural areas is not just a push for more residents to be able get online to surf the Internet. Broadband is key to improving rural health, through "more cost-effective and higher-quality care, such as video consultation, remote patient monitoring and electronic health record operability," reports Health Affairs. "And in many places—particularly rural areas that have the most to gain from telemedicine and connectivity—broadband remains too expensive, unreliable or simply not available at the speeds required to enable innovations in care."

Rural healthcare providers can get around a lack of broadband availability in a variety of ways, reports Health Affairs. "Health care providers can purchase broadband access through mass market options, which are similar to the internet access purchased by individual consumers and can meet the bandwidth needs of most small providers (four or fewer clinicians)."

Federal subsidies also are available, reports Health Affairs. Within the Rural Health Care Program "subsidies for three types of services are available to public and non-profit health care providers: telecommunication services for rural providers (Telecommunications Fund); Internet access for rural providers (Internet Access Fund); and one-time capital costs for network deployment with five years of support for costs of advanced telecommunications and information services for rural and urban providers (Pilot Program)."

They real key is to initiate recommendations made in the 2010 National Broadband Plan, reports Health Affairs. Plans are: Make it easier for rural health care providers to use broadband support; expand eligibility requirements to include more health care providers; and adjust the RHCP to address the rapidly changing broadband environment. (Read more)


Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 4/03/2015 12:50:00