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Beltway Confidential

AP: EPA abandons plan to link Wyoming pollution to fracking

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Environment,Energy Department,Wyoming,EPA,Analysis

That is what the Associated Press is teasing now. Unfortunately as I type this, that is about all it is saying. Here’s the news from their website, en toto: “CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — EPA abandons plan to confirm hydraulic fracturing is linked to Wyoming groundwater pollution.”

Here’s some background: About 18 months ago the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that found that chemicals used in “fracking,” a natural gas extraction process, may have polluted local aquifers near Pavillion, Wyo. It was potentially the first real evidence to back up environmentalist claims was a danger to groundwater.

The report found:

EPA’s analysis of samples taken from the Agency’s deep monitoring wells in the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels. Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking water wells to groundwater contamination, EPA is concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time.

The EPA cautioned at the time that the results were preliminary:

The draft findings announced today are specific to Pavillion, where the fracturing is taking place in and below the drinking water aquifer and in close proximity to drinking water wells — production conditions different from those in many other areas of the country.

If the AP report is confirmed, it will be a major boost for the natural gas industry and a shock to environmentalists, who have made opposition to fracking a major crusade. For more on this debate see my column on Matt Damon’s anti-fracking movie Promised Land and my column on dueling pro- and anti-fracking documentaries.

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