The EPA has worked mightily to demonstrate that oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing causes water contamination, yet it has struck out again.
Although it has backed away from other locations where it originally claimed potential fracking pollution, EPA tried with great fervor to prove fracking caused water contamination near Pavilion, Wyoming.
But once again, it couldn’t. The EPA announced in June it would no longer pursue its investigation but instead will allow the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) to take the lead in the scientific investigation of water quality at the site.
Initial Studies Flawed
The EPA’s initial report alleging potential fracking pollution, released in December 2011, contained numerous errors which it attempted to correct with a second study. The second study was also replete with errors.
Preexisting Water Pollution
If there is anywhere in the United States where the geology and history of oil and natural gas production might lead to water pollution from fracking, Pavilion was it. The geology was different from most other fracking locations and more easily susceptible to leakage of natural gas and chemicals into nearby wells. Also, there had been decades of local wells being contaminated by natural gas before fracking occurred.
Nevertheless, the idea that fracking was the cause of some area water pollution seemed unlikely from the outset, given the history of well contamination before fracking occurred. Local residents asked the EPA to investigate, hoping the environmentalist-friendly federal agency would establish fracking was the cause.
These residents now feel betrayed by their friend, the EPA, which has given up trying to link area water pollution to fracking.
It’s hard to believe the EPA would have abandoned its efforts if it wasn’t certain its previous reports were seriously flawed.
Environmental activist groups are up in arms over the turn of events in Pavilion, but if the EPA can’t prove fracking causes water contamination, who can?
Donn Dears ([email protected]) is an energy economist and publisher of the website Power For USA. This article first appeared on the Power For USA site and is reprinted with permission.