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EPA Report on Wyoming Fracking Criticized by Energy Company and Others


EPA Report on Wyoming Fracking Criticized by Energy Company and Others

December 16, 2011

In a widely publicized draft report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) potentially linked groundwater contamination with fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming.  It is the first report claiming that chemicals consistent with those used in fracking were found in groundwater.

Meanwhile, Encana Oil & Gas issued a response to the EPA’s draft report. Encana strongly criticized the EPA in numerous respects.  First, Encana states that the EPA mistakenly released the draft report before its findings were final and subjected to peer review.  Encana also claims that, given the nature and location of the shale formation, components of natural gas are to be expected to be found in the monitoring wells.  Encana further argues that deficient water quality has nothing to do with fracking since poor water quality has been reported in the area since the 1880s.

Experts have noted that the EPA’s potential findings may not be replicated in other major fracking areas since shale gas in Wyoming is only 1,220 feet deep with water wells extending to almost 800 feet, while formations such as the Marcellus are fracked at much deeper levels and have rock barriers between the gas and water.

The EPA is currently conducting a three-year study of fracking.  It plans to release an interim report next year and a final study in 2014.   The EPA has not indicated whether or to what extent it will promulgate regulations related to fracking.