Friday, December 9, 2011

EPA Pavillion report stokes fire over fracking - SPECIAL REPORT

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December 9 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency has
determined that the water of Pavillion, Wyoming
has been contamined with chemicals that are
associated in the extraction of natural gas and oil,
but they stopped short of linking the problem to any
 "fracking" taking place in or around area.
(Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency
An Environmental Protection Agency draft report on Thursday confirms that chemicals commonly used in hydraulic fracturing in the extraction of natural gas and oil indeed contributed to the contamination of drinking water near Pavillion — a tiny farm town in the central portion of the state. But it stopped short of making the link to any specific hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — or any other specific drilling activity in an area where oil and gas drilling has occurred for decades.

The report was hailed by the environmental community and industry watchdog groups, which proclaimed validation in their warnings that fracking can pollute drinking water near Pavillion and elsewhere in the nation. “For years the oil and gas industry has argued that there is no chance that fracking will contaminate ground water sources, but this report appears to be a smoking gun against that claim,” Western Resource Advocates’ lands program director Mike Chiropolos said in a prepared statement.

The oil and gas industry slammed the report as “reckless,” “unsubstantiated,” and “irresponsible.” In fact, state and industry officials had asked EPA to hold the draft report until an “independent peer review” was conducted, according to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, because industry and state leaders had been compiling a list of concerns with EPA’s investigation.

The draft report is now available for a 45-day public comment period, after which a 30-day peer-review process will begin “by a panel of independent scientists,” according to EPA.

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