EPA to link fracking with water contamination for first time

The enviro war against fracking enters a new phase.

Greenwire reports,

U.S. EPA is expected to announce later today that hydraulic fracturing and other gas drilling practices played a role in contaminating drinking water in a Wyoming community, contradicting an industry talking point used repeatedly in efforts to prevent increased federal regulation of oil and gas production.

The draft report is expected to say testing in Pavillion, Wyo., “indicates groundwater in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices including hydraulic fracturing,” according to a portion of the report read to Greenwire.

The draft will stress that the findings are preliminary and still must go through peer review. The agency is also expected to say that it should not be used as an example to say that fracturing could contaminate groundwater elsewhere.

But the report is already drawing criticism from backers of the oil and gas industry. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) went straight from a phone conversation with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to the microphone at a Senate hearing today to open fire on the findings.

“This announcement is part of President Obama’s war on fossil fuels and his determination to shut down natural gas production,” Inhofe said. “It is irresponsible for EPA to release such an explosive announcement without objective peer review.”

Inhofe said Jackson committed that EPA would release all the data, methodologies and protocols used in the Pavillion investigation. But she would not commit to deeming it a “Highly Influential Scientific Study (HISA),” which would require it to undergo heightened peer review. Instead, Inhofe said Jackson told him she would get back to him.

Inhofe and others have criticized EPA for not using that level of peer review for the endangerment finding that forms the basis for proposed regulation of greenhouse gas emissions…

A spokesman for Encana said,

This really isn’t a conclusion, it’s a probability. They talk about likelihood, but they don’t have a definitive conclusion.

Click for the EPA draft report.

6 thoughts on “EPA to link fracking with water contamination for first time”

  1. Ben of Houston The fracking and the Earthquakes in Oklahoma are directly related because of the impact craters. The craters ripped apart the strata, but more importantly they are also a bowl shaped structure of fractured low density rock. The reason they are visible is that the layers lain down after the impact are faulted because the crater was still settling. The well logs on the edge tend to have lots of water in them. there isn’t solid continuous strata. There are two bowl shaped structures weakly integrated with the surrounding rock. When you pressurize it with 10 or twenty injection wells it breaks loose and creates earthquakes.

    The oil and gas companies knew about the structures and did not volunteer that information at the expense of those people who had their homes damaged or destroyed.

    Also senator Jim Infofe a man without a bit of logic attacked the EPA study. He is from Oklahoma and he doesn’t have a clue what the oil companies are doing in his back yard.

  2. Rock head, what does that have to do with anything?

    Also, while the oil companies might have known that there was some unusual rock formations, they probably would not have thought to label it as an asteroid impact crater. They are more interested in what lies below the ground.

  3. There seems to be at least two big asteroid impact craters in Oklahoma. The asteroid impact crater causing most of the problems is about 13.5 miles across centered at approximately 35.557N, -96.871W. The smaller one, I have (tentatively) named the Meeker Crater. The larger is the Choctaw (tentative name) Crater is approximately 66.0 miles across located at 35.060N, -97.315W. I am guessing that they are between 250 and 300 million years old. The 1952 Earthquake was on the Northwest edge of the Choctaw Crater. Don’t tell me that the oil companies didn’t know about them, it is their business to know what is down there.

  4. Remember this is the same organization the brought you the Asbestos ban based on two, highly flawed reports. And this is the same organization that has defined beach sand a toxic substance due to the presence of silica. It’s hard to believe anything out of the EPA. It demonstrates common sense isn’t common and they are irresponsible in the way they present ‘data’.

  5. The EPA makes a compelling case. I find it odd that the casing in the well was so shallow (according to the report, it ended in the middle of the water table and above the level of some wells). It is standard practice to put casing much deeper than that. Also, the water disposal pits are assinine and the person who suggested using them should be shot. Any idiot knows that you have to treat wastewater before putting it into unlined pits.

    Also, the report does not mention or consider shallow gas pockets. It is well known that the region has shallow gas pockets that interfere with domestic wells. At the bottom of the aquifer, these are thermogenic gas, and when the water table drops, the reduced pressure allows gas to leach out into the water. This is the same thing that got the case thrown out of court the last time they tried to make this determination.

    So, while it is highly suspicious, it isn’t conclusive because they did not consider the most likely alternative, natural sources of gas. However, if the well is leaking, it is due to poor construction and failure to comply with basic standards. Similar to the BP failure in the Gulf. If you fail to do the work properly and skip safety steps, it isn’t safe.

  6. Peer review just like the IPCC? Well, you can tell the oil companies they will have to find oil and gas some other way or they can just give up like Obama and Jackson want them to do.

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