Although the EPA admitted almost eighteen months ago that fracking chemicals were contaminating aquifiers, it was just this week that the agency has officially acknowledged what people in affected communities have known for a long time – YES, fracking IS poisoning our drinking water.

A preliminary version of the study, released in 2015, determined that there was “no evidence that fracking systemically contaminates water [supplies].” But interestingly, this statement is not part of the final study. EPA science adviser Thomas Burke says that it was deleted because “scientists concluded it could not be quantitatively supported.”

The timing of this report is significant, coming as it does just before a blatantly and aggressively anti-environment, rabidly pro-fossil fuel Administration is about to take control of the country. President-select Donnie Boy is hell-bound and determined to “drill, baby, drill” and let companies frack wherever the hell they please (not that Obama and Clinton have been much better about the issue) and his pick for EPA is another whore for the fossil fuel industry who is determined to dismantle any and all regulations limiting oil and gas exploration.

In fact, Trump is surrounding himself with sycophants who have intimate economic and professional ties as well as vested interests in the fossil fuel industry. They include the CEO of Continental Resources, a major fracking company and a Congressman from North Dakota, where fracking has produced an economic boom (for some people, at least).

The question is: now that this gang of environmental thugs and vultures is confronted by this scientific evidence, will they actually listen, or (as is more likely) simply disregard it?

Even Burke, while acknowledging the evidence that fracking contaminates water at every step, says the new report is “full of gaps and holes” – something that Trump and his corporate lickspittles will jump all over.

As it is, regulations on fracking are weak. During his tenure in office, President Obama signed off on only a single rule to protect water supplies – and that only applies to fracking on federal lands. The problem is that 90% of all fracking is carried out on private and state land, so that rule isn’t doing much to protect the majority of people who are affected.

Furthermore, while Burke says the study will “give a lot of information to help communities and decision makers do better in protecting water supplies,” the fact is that communities and even individual families have been fighting for a long time to ban fracking in their areas. In these efforts, they have been slapped down every time by courts and local governments that don’t give a tinker’s damn about anything but the profits of their corporate pimps.

For example, in 2014, the town of Denton, Texas, attempted to ban fracking within its boundaries. Their ban was overturned by a state court after the government sued. Shortly thereafter, Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill making it illegal for local communities to ban fracking.

It’s ironic, considering how big right-wing Texas is on “local control” and their contempt for “big gummint”.  Unfortunately, Denton was not the only example of a small community will being trampled by corporate interests. Earlier this year, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that cities could not ban fracking.

It’s a situation that will only continue to get worse under a pro-fossil fuel, anti-environment Trump Administration takes the reins of government next year.

The question now is: what are We, The People prepared to do about it?

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.