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EPA: Fracking chemicals pollute Wyoming groundwater!

Environmentalists have long claimed the connection between fracking and groundwater contamination, but the this is the first time that EPA has drawn the connection. On Thursday, the EPA said that a study of groundwater in an aquifer around Pavillion, Wyoming, contained “compounds likely associated with with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process by which natural gas is extracted by the injection of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground to crack shale rock. There is a lot of concern about the effect of fracking on drinking water.

The EPA constructed two wells to test water quality in the Wyoming aquifer, near where the natural gas company Encana has drilled. Researcher found synthetic chemicals associated with fracking within the test wells, as well as high levels of methand and benzene, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) in amounts “well above” Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

The principal natural gas company in North America is now Exxon-Mobil, after some recent acquisitions. Exxon says that fracking is safe and wishes to pursue massive drilling for new supplies of natural gas. :-)

My own personal opinion is that Exxon-Mobil would say just about anything for a few million  bucks, even more for billions.

Exxon is already “fracking hard” in Eastern Europe. Of course, environmental protection is probably not so strong there as in, for example, Pennsylvania.

“Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking water wells to ground water contamination, EPA is concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time,” the agency said. Samples of drinking wells showed small amounts of compounds “consistent with migration from areas of gas production,” it added.

The EPA was careful to note that its findings “are specific to Pavillion” and are not applicable to fracking projects all over the country. Natural gas, the agency added, “plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future.”

At this point, the EPA study is still preliminary, subject to public comment and a peer-review process.

Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA’s report “validates things Americans all over the country have been saying for years.”

Wyoming (and Pennsylvania) are beautiful states. I have driven east-to-west though BOTH of them. Unlike “Big Oil” companies that are concerned almost solely with profits, I would hate to see groundwater in such states turned into vehicles for cancer-causing agents.

-Bill at

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