December 4, 2013

Strong Rules On Fracking In Wyoming Seen as Model

Source: The New York Times, November 23, 2013
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In energy-friendly Wyoming, oil and gas companies are getting a clear message: Drill, baby, drill — but carefully.

Last week, state regulators approved one of the nation’s strongest requirements for testing water wells near drilling sites. The measure is intended to address concerns that groundwater can become contaminated from drilling activities.

It is the latest of several groundbreaking regulations related to energy production issued by Wyoming, which in 2010 became the first state to require disclosure of some of the chemicals used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

”I am not going to accept the question of do you want a clean environment or do you want energy,” said Gov. Matthew H. Mead, a Republican who championed the water-testing regulation. ”The fact is that in Wyoming, we want and need both.”

Wyoming ranks about fourth among states in natural gas production and eighth in oil production, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

The new water rule, which takes effect in March, will require oil and gas companies to test wells or springs within a half-mile of their drilling site, both before and after drilling. The tests will measure a range of factors, including temperature, bacteria, dissolved gases like methane and propane, and roughly 20 chemical compounds and elements including barium, benzene, strontium and nitrates.

The rule comes after another measure that took effect this month requiring drilling companies to monitor for certain air pollutants at new oil and gas production sites, and fix any leaks. The requirement applies only to an area in western Wyoming that struggles to keep ozone in check.…

October 15, 2012

New EPA Findings Test Fracking Site

Source: Dow Jones News Service, October 11, 2012
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New tests of water surrounding natural-gas-drilling sites near Pavillion, Wyo., have turned up results that are ” generally consistent” with earlier findings showing a link between contamination and hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The EPA’s announcement could be a blow to natural-gas company Encana Corp., which operates the Pavillion gas field and has routinely denied any link between its drilling and compounds found in the EPA’s two monitoring wells.

Encana says the EPA drilled its wells into a gas zone, which explains the presence of hydrocarbons. The company also says the EPA has drawn improper conclusions from its data.

“EPA has provided no sound scientific evidence that drilling has impacted domestic drinking-water wells in the area,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said.

Though the EPA has stressed Pavillion is unique and that any evidence of contamination there shouldn’t be used as an indictment of hydraulic fracturing everywhere, these tests could fuel concerns about hydraulic fracturing, dubbed ” fracking,” and the risk it potentially poses to groundwater supplies.

The EPA said Wednesday it would accept comments on its draft findings until January, extending a deadline that was slated to expire in October.

Fracking involves a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals injected underground to break open seams in the earth and unlock natural-gas supplies. Fracking paved the way for a boom of U.S. natural-gas production, but opponents say the drilling method contaminates groundwater and allows greenhouse gases to escape into the atmosphere.…