My, my: EPA declines to confirm a connection between fracking and groundwater pollution in Wyoming

posted at 6:41 pm on June 20, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t displayed much of an inclination for judiciousness in their bureaucratic rulemaking. It seems that they rarely miss an opportunity to design new regulations, to ascribe themselves new and expanded authority, nor to find and/or make up new justifications for doing so — which makes this… conspicuously odd.

Since 2011, the EPA has been “reviewing” their study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing — a.k.a. “fracking,” the drilling technique largely behind the shale oil and gas boom sweeping the nation — on possible groundwater contamination near drilling sites in Wyoming. It was the first major study that pointed to a possible link between fracking and groundwater pollution, and the eco-radical crowd cheered the EPA onward (never you mind the many glaring problems with the study’s findings and analysis, which Wyoming Governor Matt Mead at the time called “scientifically questionable”) while the EPA pursued their desired results with all of the single-minded determination of a government agency whose collective mind is already made up. And yet, here we are, over a year later, and the EPA still hasn’t been able to conclusively determine that the chemicals they are detecting are indeed the result of hydraulic fracturing — which might explain why the independent federal agency is now deciding to abandon their plan to confirm that the two are linked and is instead returning the regulatory responsibilities back to the state of Wyoming. Via the AP:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it is abandoning its longstanding plan to have independent scientists confirm or cast doubt on its finding that hydraulic fracturing may be linked to groundwater pollution in central Wyoming. …

“We stand behind our work and the data, but EPA recognizes the state’s commitment to further investigation,” he told AP.

Wyoming officials have been skeptical about the theory that hydraulic fracturing played a role in the pollution, but Reynolds expressed confidence the state could lead the work from here. …

The EPA has extended public comment periods on the draft report three times since it came out — twice last year and again this year. Each extension delayed the peer-review plans.

They just can’t bear to come out and say it, can they? Especially not now that it sounds like the Obama administration is looking to move forward, albeit slowly and cautiously, with some increased natural gas development. I doubt that Josh Fox will be at all pleased.


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