Last week, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead announced the state will take over investigating whether hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is responsible for water pollution detected around the town of Pavillion, which is in the center of the state.
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency published a study that linked fracking to groundwater contamination, but last week, announced it would turn over research efforts to the state. The study will be partially funded by a grant from the gas exploration company operating in the area in question.
Wyoming Outdoor Council environmental quality coordinator, Amber Wilson, admits there is some awkwardness around the fact the drilling company is footing $1.5 million for the study, but says it's still possible the study can be done impartially.
Encana has also been paying to have safe drinking water trucked in for the residents of Pavillion for years, but has always maintained their operations are not the cause of the contamination. Wilson said it will be important to have independent researchers involved in the investigation.
Wilson said she also wants the Department of Human Health to research the effects the contaminated water has on people's health.
The EPA did not provide a detailed explanation regarding why it chose to discontinue its own investigation, but say it stands by its research. Some theories suggest a tight federal budget and skepticism of federal encroachment contributed to the state's assumption of the investigation.
A recent study from Duke University also found a link between fracking and water contamination in Pennsylvania.