By Mead Gruver, Associated Press
May 3, 2012
In internal emails that followed the Nov. 4 briefing, state officials expressed support for fracking as critical to oil and gas extraction, a $7.7 billion a year industry in Wyoming that accounts for 20 percent of the state's gross domestic product.
"The limiting of the hydraulic fracturing process will result in negative impacts to the oil and gas revenues to the state of Wyoming. A further outcome will be the questioning of the economic viability of all unconventional and tight oil and gas reservoirs in Wyoming, across the United States, and ultimately in the world," wrote Tom Doll, supervisor of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, in a long email that circulated among top state officials.
Wyoming's top state regulator of oil and gas development, including essentially all fracking in the state, Doll was a district manager for Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams Production Company until 2008.
The spark for Doll's missive was the closed-door meeting at Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality headquarters in Cheyenne two days earlier. EPA administrator Martin briefed Wyoming officials about what the EPA was about to announce based on its research in Pavillion. Doll took part by phone.
"Contaminants present at high concentrations in the deep monitoring wells are likely a result of hydraulic fracturing," read a "Key Findings" slide in an EPA PowerPoint shown at the meeting. Each slide was marked "Confidential--Do Not Disclose."
The public announcement more than a month later stated that the groundwater "contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing."
The EPA also suggested at the private meeting that gas development likely had contaminated household well water in the Pavillion area but that current data did not definitively support such a link. The EPA has made no such claim in public to date.
Emails show that Mead sought to reach Jackson within hours. Mead confirmed that he got her to hold off on the findings report until state officials could review the data.
"When I talked to Lisa Jackson they were going to release the findings regardless. That wasn't even the question. The question was on the timing of it. We wanted a chance to see what are they basing this on," Mead told the AP.