EPA Halts Peer Review Of Study Claiming Fracking Contaminates GroundwaterPosted: June 23, 2013
EPA Covers Up The Safety Of Fracking
Energy Policy: The Environmental Protection Agency declines to have outside experts review its study claiming water contamination from fracking in Wyoming. Why confuse an analysis based on ideology with the facts?
As we noted in December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from environmental groups, tried to manufacture a crisis in which hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was said to have contaminated test wells in Pavillion, Wyo. Those claims and others made in the six-decade history of the technology’s use have repeatedly proved groundless.
In 2011, the EPA released the non-peer reviewed report on Pavillion in which the agency publicly linked fracking and groundwater contamination for the first time. However, then-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stated that there is “no proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”
Indeed, the EPA has also found no link between fracking and groundwater contamination despite claims in Parker County, Texas, and Dimock, Pa., the latter of which became a battleground in environmentalists’ campaign against fracking and was featured in the anti-fracking documentary “Gasland.”
At the time, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead called the study “scientifically questionable,” an opinion buttressed by the facts and the EPA’s announcement on Thursday that it will not produce a final report or have outside experts review its claims of environmental harm. It told its story two years ago and is sticking to it. The story is bogus.
First, the contamination was found in two “monitoring wells” drilled by EPA outside of town, not in water wells that actually supply residents their water. EPA use of “dense soda ash” to drill its monitoring wells into a hydrocarbon-bearing layer probably skewed the results.
According to the industry research group Energy in Depth, “dense soda ash has a recorded pH (11.5), very similar to the level found in the deep wells, creating the possibility that the high pH recorded by EPA could have been caused by the very chemicals it used to drill its own wells.”
What the EPA report doesn’t say is that the U.S. Geological Survey has detected organic chemicals in the well water in Pavillion for at least five decades, long before fracking was done. The deepwater wells that EPA drilled are situated near a natural gas reservoir.
Encana Corp., which owns more than 100 wells near Pavillion, says it didn’t “put the natural gas at the bottom of the EPA’s deep monitoring wells. Nature did.”
The fact is the mixture used to fracture shale and extract oil and gas is a benign blend of 90% water, 9.5% sand and 0.5% chemicals such as the sodium chloride of table salt and the citric acid of the orange juice you had for breakfast.
Shale formations in which fracking is used are thousands of feet deep. Drinking-water aquifers are generally only a hundred feet deep. There’s a lot of solid rock in between.
Dimock became the centerpiece of “Promised Land,” a film financed by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates that did nothing to alter Hollywood’s stereotype of businessmen — particularly energy-industry executives — as greedy plunderers of the planet.
The United Arab Emirates and other OPEC members are threatened by the oil and natural gas boom from the shale of the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and the Marcellus in, yes, Pennsylvania.
Thanks to fracking, which has boosted an otherwise dismal economy, the U.S is awash in oil and gas, and on its way to becoming a major energy exporter.
OPEC would like nothing better than to see the EPA shut down fracking entirely, and the EPA would like to comply as part of the Obama administration’s war on the fossil fuels it regards as the energy source of the past.
Which is why the agency is not about to allow a scientific peer-review of its bogus claims about Pavillion.