The Energy Collective is reporting that the EPA has recently abandoned water testing it was performing in Pavillion, Wyoming without explanation. The testing was commenced in 2009 after residents expressed concern that their water had developed strong odors, a bad taste, and had turned black after the commencement of natural gas drilling for fracking in the area. The initial testing showed that 11 wells had contamination from chemicals associated with drilling and fracking fluids. Now that the EPA has abandoned testing, the state of Wyoming will conduct further tests, but those may be funded by Encana, the very oil and gas company involved in the drilling operations in Pavillion. Furthermore, area residents note that the state has denied that the groundwater contamination is a cause for concern. A citizen’s action group, Pavillian Area Concerned Citizens, chaired by resident John Fenton originally appealed to the EPA for help. The EPA also appears to have breached a legal duty to consult with tribal officials of the Northern Arapaho tribe, whose tribal resources are involved.
As we have mentioned in the past, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process where water, mixed with sand and chemicals, is injected into a well to break up the porous shale, and allow the natural gas to be caught. There are some oil and gas companies that insist this is the only way to collect natural gas. One problem with this procedure is that we do not know what chemicals are used in the process, and as the laws currently stand, companies can call the information about the chemicals used “proprietary” and not disclose them. There is a possibility that the chemicals could get into the water table, harming the water supply. This process is currently regulated by states, many under railroad legislation! Federal Legislatures are pushing to bring regulation of fracking under the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act.