A hydrologist hired by several environmental groups has confirmed a draft report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that links water contamination in Wyoming to hydraulic fracturing, according to the Natural Resources Defend Council.
The EPA report is the result of an investigation that began in spring 2008 after residents of Pavillion, Wyo., complained about smells, tastes and adverse changes in their water quality.
Canada-based Encana Corp., which has been active in the Pavillion area, maintains the water wells in the area have not been adversely impacted by oil and natural gas development. The company noted the U.S. Geological Survey reported poor water quality in Pavillion as far back as the 1880s.
Wyoming officials also objected to the report, claiming EPA’s tests were inadequate, so new tests began last month.
The NRDC report indicates tests by independent hydrologist Tom Myers has confirmed the water contamination was caused by hydraulic fracturing, a process used to unlock oil and natural gas reserves from dense rock. Myers also concluded the EPA investigation was scientifically sound.
“These findings only serve to underscore why we need strong rules on the books that safeguard the American public from drinking water threats from fracking — including closing the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows the oil and gas industry to cut corners and put our water supplies at risk. We look forward to the final EPA report after continued investigation and peer review,” according to NRDC’s staff blog.
The oil and gas industry maintains hydraulic fracturing does not affect groundwater because of the way wells are constructed. Officials also have fought against federal regulation of the process, arguing state oversight is sufficient to protect the environment.
Energy in Depth, an industry-sponsored public outreach campaign, questioned Myers’ findings because of his ties to well known shale industry critic