WSJ Says EPA Using Pavillion, WY in Scare Tactic Campaign

scare tacticsToday’s Wall Street Journal provides a devastating rebuttal of the very flawed EPA study that tries to pin chemical contamination of water supplies in Pavillion, Wyoming on fracking. Among the WSJ’s observations:

The EPA says it launched the study in response to complaints "regarding objectionable taste and odor problems in well water." What it doesn’t say is that the U.S. Geological Survey has detected organic chemicals in the well water in Pavillion (population 175) for at least 50 years—long before fracking was employed.*

The one “dangerous” compound that exists in the water above federal limits is was 2-butoxyethyl phosphate—all other compounds were within acceptable limits. As for 2-BE?

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that 2-BE isn’t an oil and gas chemical but is a common fire retardant used in association with plastics and plastic components used in drinking wells.*

Read the other points the WSJ makes by clicking the link below to view the full article. Many of those points were made by MDN here.

But it is the article’s conclusions that caught MDN’s eye—the same conclusions you’ve been reading about here for months. That is, the success of shale gas means adopting so-called alternative or “sustainable” energy sources will slow down in the short-term, and the global warmists just can’t have that:

…EPA’s credibility is also open to review. The agency is dominated by anticarbon true believers, and the Obama Administration has waged a campaign to raise the price and limit the production of fossil fuels.

Natural gas carries a smaller carbon footprint than coal or oil, and greens once endorsed it as an alternative to coal and nuclear power. But as the shale gas revolution has advanced, greens are worried that plentiful natural gas will price wind and solar even further out of the market. This could mean many more of the White House’s subsidized investments will go belly up like Solyndra.

The other big issue is regulatory control. Hydraulic fracturing isn’t regulated by the EPA, and in 2005 Congress reaffirmed that it did not want the EPA to do so under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The states regulate gas drilling, and by and large they have done the job well. Texas and Florida adopted rules last week that followed other states in requiring companies to disclose their fracking chemicals.

But the EPA wants to muscle in, and its Wyoming study will help in that campaign. The agency is already preparing to promulgate new rules regulating fracking next year. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple says that new EPA rules restricting fracking "would have a huge economic impact on our state’s energy development. We believe strongly this should be regulated by the states." Some 3,000 wells in the vast Bakken shale in North Dakota use fracking.*

The EPA continues to be a rogue agency.

*Wall Street Journal (Dec 19, 2011) – The EPA’s Fracking Scare

  • Anonymous

    I may not be a rocket scientist working for the EPA, but every drink of well water I’ve ever sipped in Wyoming had “taste and odor problems.”  I can say the same for most of the West Texas well water, as well as any other non-treated water that I’ve been around.  It probably didn’t take much of a reason to commission this sort of study when the only goal is to shut down the frac’ing process.  I don’t understand the motivation to do so, and I guess I don’t have to. 

  • Anonymous

    You have this backwards.  This is a very flawed rebuttle of a devistating EPA study.  It is not a balanced report of conflicting claims, but an opinion piece — one with misstatements in every paragraph.  And one without a byline. 

    I don’t have the time to document all the WSJ mistakes, but consider one that you highlight: “The Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that 2-BE isn’t an oil and gas chemical …”.  2-BE is commonly used in gas extraction, both as foaming agent for drilling as a surfactant for fracing. You can find it in almost anly list of “fracking” chemicals, for example:

    It is being debated whether shale gas has a smaller carbon footprint than oil or even coal.  However it is cleaner than coal with respect to other pollutants such a sulfur, mercury, and flyash.

    If the states are doing such a good job regulating, then why are there hundreds if not thousands of reports by people who claim that their drinking water was fouled by gas extraction?  They can’t all be wrong.

    The necessity of EPA involvement in shale gas pollution, is that only the federal government has the resources to identify and track down the source.  The states can’t afford to do it.  That is why the industry is desperate to keep the feds out, so they can keep on saying “No one has proven … ”

    Of course federal regs on shale gas pollution would have huge economic effects.  It would shift the costs from the community that would suffer from the pollution to the industry that is creating it.

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