US water contamination claims crushed by Wyoming Government investigation

November 18th, 2016

The Government of Wyoming has driven another stake into the heart of activist claims about water contamination supposedly caused by hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

For years, fractivists in the USA and Australia have looked to Pavillion, Wyoming, as their claimed ‘proof point’ of fracking causing groundwater contamination.  Throughout those years, industry and other independent testing has come to a different conclusion – that any contamination of water bores was a result of natural  substances already in the soil and/or contamination caused by farmers as they drilled their own bores, connecting groundwater to shallow contaminants which are often naturally occurring and have nothing to do with much deeper shale drilling, typically more than a kilometre underground.

Now the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) has confirmed the activists were wrong and the industry was right.

And to make this revelation even more interesting, WDEQ  has concluded that the US Environmental Protection Agency was itself to blame for some instances of contamination caused by its testing program – which it undertook at the behest of activists.

WDEQ this week released a landmark report stating that there is no evidence that fracking contaminated groundwater in Pavillion and that the EPA was likely to blame for some bore contamination.

Pavillion is the town from where fractivist celebrity John Fenton plied his international anti-industry trade, all the while collecting royalties from gas facilities hosted on his property.  Mr Fenton has twice visited Australia telling audiences he knows for sure that fracking directly caused contamination of water bores in pavilion.

He may need to adjust his message in light of the WDEQ report; however, it would not be surprising if he chooses to ignore the findings, as activists often do when science fails to support their emotive claims.

Pavilion was also a feature of the discredited Josh Fox 2010 activist propaganda movie Gasland.

As Energy In Depth writes, “the WDEQ report is a devastating blow for the national environmental activist campaign against fracking, which has made Pavillion a key talking point in its effort to shut down oil and gas development across the country.”

The report notes that the “evidence does not indicate that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallow depths utilized by water-supply wells”, and further to this, state environmental regulators and other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, have criticized the initial report that the EPA released 3 years ago, which suggested fracking was the cause of the water contamination.

The criticisms focus on the fact that a pair of water-quality monitoring wells, drilled by the EPA to conduct tests, were poorly constructed and were more likely to have introduced the very contaminants that some have tried to blame on fracking.

The EPA’s investigation into water contamination from fracking has been thoroughly discredited (see EID’s fact sheet, the S.S. Papadopulos & Associates review and EID’s notes).  Since their initial misleading report, the EPA  have back peddled to try and recover some of its battered reputation.

Energy in Depth summarises the situation thus:

State and federal officials have been studying the Pavillion case for many years. Multiple investigations have revealed that water quality issues in the region are most likely the result of natural causes. This report is the final definitive chapter fully revealing that anti-fracking activists’ claims about Pavillion are without merit.

Back on the home front, the report is definitely not good news for those who have championed the EPA’s findings as an example of why fracking should be banned in Australia.

Emotive comments by Lock the Gate leader Drew Hutton and Mr Fenton are now looking more and more conspicuous, and their campaigns  fruitless and a waste of time and money.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham ought to also review the validity of his comments – as one who championed Mr Fenton – and undertook his own Josh fox copycat activities on Queensland’s  Condamine river stunt from earlier this year.

And the Frackman film activist, Dayne Pratzky, might need to revisit some of the claims he has made about water contamination in the USA, where he toured two years ago.  The Frackman spent three years trying to prove a link between fracking and water contamination.  He failed, as his own movie showed.

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