Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Wyoming’s Tainted Water Pressures EPA on to Act on Gas Fracking
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report linking hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to groundwater contamination for the first time puts pressure on the agency to move sooner on efforts to regulate drilling.
The Dec. 8 report that chemicals consistent with those used in drilling were found in groundwater samples in west-central Wyoming may be used by the agency to accelerate action, according to Ken von Schaumburg, a Washington-based attorney and former EPA deputy general counsel. The EPA is weighing three rules on fracturing, or fracking, the first of which is planned for April.
Environmental groups say fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced underground to shatter rock and let gas flow, is a threat to drinking-water supplies. The EPA’s draft report on groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Salt Lake City, is the first to blame the drilling technique for spoiling water.
“They’re trying to move the rule-making along,” von Schaumburg, who served in President George W. Bush's administration, said in an interview. “They’re getting a lot of pushback from industry. This may be a tool for EPA to speed up the process.”