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IPAA-Backed Study Says EPA Finding in Pavillion, WY, 'Unsupported'

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) data and analysis did not support the conclusion linking water contamination in Pavillion, WY, to chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.

The review, which was conducted by Houston-based consulting firm S.S. Papadopulos & Associates on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), also noted that the EPA used unapproved analytical methods and improperly conducted various field procedures, misinterpreted data used to draw conclusions, and did not consider alternative hypotheses for some of the evidence that it found, according to the IPAA, which represents independent oil and gas producers.

The EPA's draft report was released in December, culminating a multi-year effort in which the EPA investigated water quality concerns in private drinking water wells in Pavillion (see Shale Daily, Dec. 9, 2011). The report came under immediate attack from Wyoming and industry officials, who claimed that the water well testing procedures used by federal officials were flawed, and failed to account for naturally occurring chemicals.

"Through this [latest] review, the science speaks for itself. Unfortunately the EPA has continued to miss the mark with its draft report," said IPAA's Lee Fuller, vice president of government relations.

"We encourage EPA to work with the state of Wyoming and the U.S. Geological Survey, among other stakeholders, to re-examine the two EPA monitoring wells [in Pavillion] for their suitability to this study's objectives and to credibly investigate likely sources of potential constituents of concern while adopting strict scientific standards and avoiding guesswork. It is our hope that this study's flaws will challenge and guide the agency toward better methodology and reporting in the future," he said.

An EPA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

In early March EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson agreed to cooperate in a joint review of the controversial report with Wyoming officials addressing the quality of the groundwater in Pavillion (see Shale Daily, March 12).

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