EPA Defends Three Abandoned Fracking Investigations: Cabot Oil & Gas at Dimock, Range Resources at Parker Co, Encana at Pavillion; EPA Says it Will Work With States to Prevent Pollution

EPA Defends Three Fracking Investigations, Will Work With States to Prevent Pollution by Alan Kovski, January 24, 2014, Bloomberg
The Environmental Protection Agency is working with states and will continue to do so to prevent or investigate groundwater contamination from shale gas drilling, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a prominent environmental advocate. McCarthy in a letter Jan. 10 was responding to a September letter from Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who accused the EPA of “a troubling trend of abandoning investigations of hydraulic fracturing before they are completed.”

Beinecke’s letter to the EPA cited three high-profile investigations of well water contamination, all near natural gas wells where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, had been used to stimulate underground gas flow. The investigations were in Parker County, Texas, near a Range Resources Inc. gas well; at Pavillion, Wyo., near Encana Corp. gas wells; and at Dimock, Pa., near Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. gas wells.

McCarthy responded that the EPA in its investigations worked closely with individual states, “which have key capacity and regulatory authority relevant to unconventional oil and natural gas extraction.” That didn’t sit well with NRDC. Kate Sinding, a senior attorney with the group, posted a blog commentary Jan. 15 saying the letter from McCarthy “reiterates the, frankly, lame non-explanations that EPA has previously proffered.”

Beinecke’s letter said state oil and gas regulators “ignored citizen complaints.” When the EPA withdrew from the cases, “the public lost confidence that EPA was truly dedicated to investigating the risks of hydraulic fracturing and ensuring full enforcement of federal environmental statutes,” Beinecke said. [Emphasis added]

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