Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the Environmental Protection Agency's study on Pavillion wells is "scientifically questionable", and is calling for more in-depth study of the practice, according to a media release from the governor's office.
The study suggests that fracking contaminates groundwater. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a practice used to better the productivity of oil and gas extraction, and is done through pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals into the earth to improve the flow of oil and gas to the surface.
In the statement released from his office, Mead says the issue is too important to implicate fracking without a more thorough evaluation.
The media release says that Wyoming formed a group to conduct a study after Pavillion residents had complained about their water wells. Members included state residents, agencies, Tribes, EPA, and the Bureau of Land Management. The test included two wells drilled in 2010, tested once in 2010 and again in April of 2011, according to the release. Mead's says that replication of testing is needed because the results come from only two sampling events - a statement reiterated by others in the group as well.
“More sampling is needed to rule out surface contamination or the process of building these test wells as the source of the concerning results,” Tom Doll said in a media release from the governor's office. Doll is the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Supervisor and a member of the Pavillion Working Group.
Governor Mead has requested the EPA partner with the state and industry to conduct further testing.
Environmentalists have embraced the announcement, saying that it's a reminder to the industry to conduct safe drilling practices. Encana Corp., owner of the Pavillion gas field, has defended fracking, saying chemicals found in the water might come from something other than the process.
The release says those with concerns about their drinking water near Pavillion have been given water by the industry. Also, the state of Wyoming is studying how to provide them other sources of water.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.