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Wyoming Governor Wants State Input on Pavillion Water Analysis

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Wednesday asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cooperate in a scientific review and analysis of groundwater quality in Pavillion, which federal officials assert may have been polluted by natural gas drilling and well stimulation practices.

Encana Corp., which operates the gas leasehold under investigation, on Tuesday disputed a draft report by EPA, which earlier this month said contaminants found in water wells could be linked to hydraulic fracturing (see Shale Daily, Dec. 21). EPA's draft report, which is open for public comment, has come under fire by industry and state officials since it was released (see Shale Daily, Dec. 13; Dec. 9). The EPA plans to submit the findings to an independent scientific review panel.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Mead highlighted Wyoming's "professional expertise" and urged EPA to use "a cooperative approach" with state officials "to best serve a scientific, credible inquiry." The governor requested that EPA be required to obtain more samples from the test water wells before a peer review process begins, citing the need for more conclusive data. He also requested that public hearings be held in the state as part of the peer review process.

"I hope we can work together to move the work surrounding Pavillion water to a more cooperative, logical and scientific approach," Mead wrote. "The status, safety and the source of any contaminants to the water supply are issues I take seriously and I know you do too."

Mead said he would "like to see efforts based on a cooperative, fully science-based analysis that truly serves the interests of Wyoming's people, particularly citizens in the Pavillion area, Wyoming's resources and industries, and the public at large."

Jackson was asked to inform the governor about the "specific charge" the peer review panel would be given and if the peer review panel member selection would "give deference to the unique geology and hydrology of the Wind River and Fort Union formations." Mead also asked Jackson if the panel would be expected to develop "one final consensus report" or "five independent reports."

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