The EPA and Pavillion: Sloppy or Criminal?

An exceptionally well written article about the EPA and their backpedaling on their own tests in Pavillion, Wyoming appears on today’s American Thinker blog. You may recall that the EPA tried to say there is a direct link between chemical contamination of ground water supplies around Pavillion and hydraulic fracturing of gas wells in the area. MDN pointed out early on that even if such a link is eventually made, the geology where those wells were drilled is sandstone (not shale), and the wells are shallow (not deep, like the Marcellus). In other words, the EPA was trying to gin up hysteria by using an apples and oranges comparison (see this MDN story).

The EPA now admits it’s a possibility that the chemicals they detected in Pavillion came from the monitoring wells they themselves drilled. That is, they bungled their own tests. Or perhaps it’s something more sinister—did they falsify the data? Jeffrey Folks takes aim at the rogue and frankly out of control EPA in his article:

After issuing a hastily compiled report last year claiming a direct link between groundwater contamination and hydraulic fracturing at Pavillion, Wyoming, the EPA now admits that it may be wrong.  Or, it may be, it was intentionally cooking the books.  The only question now is whether the findings in the draft report were purposefully falsified so as to form the basis for national regulation of fracking, or whether they were just incredibly sloppy.  Either way, the EPA needs to be held to account.

Admitting that there are grounds for doubt concerning its earlier report, EPA director Lisa Jackson has agreed to retest groundwater around Pavillion, Wyoming.  The agency had planned to rush the report through the peer review stage, apparently as part of an effort to justify national regulation of hydraulic fracking.  Now, that peer review has been stalled by assertions that the EPA’s own test drilling was the source of the contamination.

Regardless of how the EPA’s retesting pans out, the agency’s admission of doubts concerning its initial report should ring alarm bells.  Consider that the EPA is now admitting that its initial report, which formed the basis of a nationwide media indictment of hydraulic fracturing, was based on inconclusive data.  The agency itself deployed and continues to deploy the findings as the basis for extending its regulatory grasp.  Yet it appears that the suggestion of a definite cause-and-effect relationship between natural gas drilling and well-water pollution at Pavillion is based on nothing more substantial than wishful thinking.

This is a truly astounding admission.  An agency that seeks to regulate an entire industry, if not the entire national economy, can’t get it right even when analyzing a single natural gas well.  And yet it rushes out to publicize the results of its initial testing — an action that biases public opinion against drilling.*

So the EPA couldn’t prove a connection between fracking and chemical contamination of water in Pavillion, WY, and they couldn’t prove a link in Dimock, PA. Two strikes.

Read the rest of Jeffrey Folks’ great article by clicking below.

*American Thinker (Apr 10, 2012) – Is the EPA Just Sloppy, or Cooking the Books?

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