EPA Dropped Contaminated Water Investigation to Appease Driller Who Was Its Prime Suspect

Friday, January 18, 2013
(photo: Tim Roske, AP)


Three years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was convinced a natural gas drilling company had contaminated underground wells in Texas. But EPA officials decided to drop their investigation after the company threatened to not participate in a larger study of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking).


The story began in 2010, when the EPA began to probe the work of Range Resources after receiving complaints from homeowners in Weatherford, Texas, about methane in their water supplies. By the following year, however, the agency dropped its investigation without explanation.


The Associated Press has now learned that the EPA had evidence that Range Resources was at fault for the well contamination. Apparently, federal regulators were unwilling to pursue actions against the driller because they deemed it was more important for the company to help with a national study of fracking, which wasn’t going to happen if the EPA pushed the Texas contamination issue.


The EPA did the same thing in Wyoming in 2011. An initial report showed fracking may have polluted groundwater, but after the industry and Republican lawmakers complained, the agency backed off and decided to do more testing. It still has not rendered a final decision on the Wyoming controversy.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

AP Exclusive: EPA Reversed Course on Tainted Texas Water Wells After Gas Company Protested (Associated Press)

EPA Finally Supplies Drinking Water to Pennsylvania Fracking Victims (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

EPA Says Water Near Pennsylvania Fracking is Safe, but Would You Drink It? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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