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Wyoming Governor Asks EPA to Speed Up Test Well Responses

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead wrote the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, on Monday complaining that his state has yet to get a full response from EPA to questions it raised about the federal agency's two test wells near Pavillion, WY.

On Dec. 21 Mead asked EPA to cooperate in a scientific review and analysis of groundwater quality in Pavillion that federal officials assert may have been polluted by natural gas drilling and well stimulation practices. Encana Corp., which operates the gas leasehold under investigation, days earlier had 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. 23, 2011).

In his letter to Jackson, Mead said most of Wyoming's questions remain outstanding, and he asked her to work directly with him "to ensure that the EPA responds to the remaining questions and requests for information as quickly as possible." Wyoming maintains that a more comprehensive response from EPA is needed to allow the state to "conduct a complete analysis and interpretation of the data and findings contained in the [EPA] report."

With the public comment period ending in less than two weeks (Jan. 27), Mead said it will be difficult for the state to comment without time to review the EPA's full response. Thus, Mead asked Jackson to extend the comment period in addition to posting its responses to Wyoming's questions on its website.

"Both Wyoming and the EPA should have a common goal of an unbiased, scientifically supportable finding open to the public," Mead wrote to Jackson.

Earlier this month Encana asked the EPA to suspend the comment deadline, but the agency has not responded yet (see Shale Daily, Jan. 11). The producer has asserted that many of the EPA's findings from its recent deep monitoring wells, including those related to any potential connection between fracking and Pavillion groundwater quality, "are conjecture, not factual and only serve to trigger undue alarm."

Last week the EPA said it is seeking nominations of nationally and/or internationally recognized scientists or engineers to conduct a "thorough and unbiased review" of the draft agency report released in December (see Shale Daily, Jan. 17).

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