API blasts EPA report on hydraulic fracturing


The oil and gas industry’s biggest trade group is blasting a government report that linked hydraulic fracturing with possible groundwater contamination in Wyoming.

Too many questions already have been raised about the data underpinning the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft report, said the American Petroleum Institute.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and state regulators have raised questions about some of the water samples drawn at EPA’s deep test wells in Pavillion, Wyo., after some of the results could not be replicated. Industry and Wyoming officials also have questioned whether the EPA may have introduced contaminants when it drilled those test wells.

“The oil and natural gas industry, Gov. Matt Mead and state agencies in Wyoming have raised numerous questions on the sampling process and lack of peer review for the EPA’s draft Pavillion groundwater report,” said Erik Milito, API’s group director for upstream and industry operations, in a statement. “The opportunity that shale energy production provides for American job creation and economic support is too important to delay with the distraction of flawed data.”

The draft report, released last week, represented the first time a federal agency had linked drinking water pollution with the hydraulic fracturing process that is key to extracting natural gas and oil from dense shale rock formations across the U.S. The technique involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals at high pressures deep underground to break up that rock and unlock the trapped hydrocarbons.

Environmentalists said the report underscored concerns they have been raising for years, by concluding that poorly constructed and cemented wells, channels in underground rock and other conditions may have allowed chemicals to enter Pavillion’s groundwater supplies.

But industry representatives have countered that the report is fundamentally flawed and only makes a hypothetical case that contamination can be pinned on fracturing, rather than a causal one. And they have stressed that the kind of drilling done at the gas field in west central Wyoming — shallow and close to the aquifer — is far different than work happening elsewhere in the U.S.

The public is invited to comment on the EPA’s draft report, and the agency has pledged to subject it to a thorough peer review process. API’s Milito made clear the industry would be watching.

“The protocols being followed by the agency should ensure credible and scientifically defensible results,” he said.

Jennifer Dlouhy

30 Responses

  1. jblue says:

    The EPA continues it’s assault to destroy the country.

  2. Moto says:

    “The Pavilion report shows many of the wellbores were badly cemented. Gas migration from deeper zones to shallow drinking water will occur along bad casing jobs regardless of fracking or no fracking. Duh.”

    Report did show bad cement, but the only place they could show contamination that couldn’t be surface related was in the two deeper wells that the EPA drilled which are deeper than drinking water wells in the immediate area. The kicker is that the formation should naturally contain some hydrocarbons.

    I have some experience with Wyoming petroleum geology, and I would put money on finding hundreds of contaminated wells that are nowhere near fracked oil/gas wells. (or any oil production for that matter) Hydrocarbons are very shallow in many parts of Wyoming. It is not uncommon for water wells to be drilled into formations that contain some hydrocarbons. Long story short the water in Wyoming is nasty before the oil companies get to it.

    I expect industry will start doing some baseline testing so that similar reports can be refuted in the future.

  3. eiioi says:

    If you think that only the oil companies have to weigh costs and benefits, you are being naive.

    The EPA is required by law to use risk thresholds to evaluate impacts to humans and the environment. BY LAW, they are not allowed to promulgate rules based on a bunch of angry people yelling loudly about dirty water. There has to be science behind it. Not only that, but even if there is some residual risk, if that risk is below certain thresholds, environmental agencies must approve a project (or activity for instance, in the case of hydrofracking).

  4. eiioi says:

    SureSure makes an excellent point:
    If API thought that Encana was an irresponsible company and that their actions would tarnish the reputation of the other member companies, they would throw Encana under the bus in heartbeat.
    However, since they accurately conclude that this is a witchhunt without scientific basis, and that any company could be the next to be unjustly attacked, they are taking a stand against the EPA.

  5. AAction says:

    The EPA does a great job of reducing pollution, but sometimes the cost of the regulation does not justify the benefit. Reigning in the EPA is just one point on my energy wishlist for 2012… how about passing Keystone and retiring energy tax credits? Cut the fat off Washington and balance the budget. AND CREATE JOBS!! http://americanactionforum.org/topic/tie-spending-pro-growth-policies

  6. SureSure says:

    @NoWhining, That’s right because we all know that industry trade groups are all about making sure that things are done in a responsible, well though out manner and are so especially effective at policing member companies from doing harm to anyone and ensuring that member companies take responsibility for their own actions when they screw up.

    Perhaps the EPA would have more credibility if industry insiders (such as API…hmmm) didn’t pay huge sums of money for revolving doors to get people jobs on the inside of government. You know that whole Occupy movement and the 99%? This is one of those things that they are fed up with. Heaven forbid someone should be looking out for the freshwater resources that these big companies and trade groups could give a damn about since they don’t have to live there in the aftermath of an “Ooops, sorry about that” situation.

  7. nuffalready says:

    The Pavilion report shows many of the wellbores were badly cemented. Gas migration from deeper zones to shallow drinking water will occur along bad casing jobs regardless of frac’ing or no frac’ing. Duh.

    Hint: read the report before working yourselves up into a righteous twist.

  8. Ken says:

    Natural gas can stay down there toward hell as far as I am concerned. As a specialty contractor we have lost and will continue to lose work installing pollution equipment in our clean coal fired power plants. The reason being that it is simply cheaper to do away with the technology developed for clean coal fired boilers and replace coal with natural gas. Thousands of coal related mining and construction jobs are being lost.

  9. Oscar says:

    The API is just a political lobby for the oil and gas industry so what do you expect them to say. It is sad that the oil and gas industry fights so hard to not have to do the right thing. It is just as easy to do the right thing and usually a lot cheaper, but the Bubba Network just doesn’t care to try.

  10. bradley says:

    Hey! I live in a trailer…

  11. bg says:

    CAD: From what I have observed more that 75% of the American people are uneducated dolts. It is probably close to 95% when you are referring to groundwater, aquatic checmistry, toxiclogy, and of course petrolem exploration and production. You obviouslsy belong to that group and do not know anything about analytical laboratory analysis or testing and have not read the draft EPA report on Pavillion or understand anything about the problem or the investigation. Yet you still feel compelled to bang away on your keyboard thinking that someone will care what you think. Please go back to your trailer and let the grownups work.

  12. Jerry says:

    A little weak on subtly there EmSeeDubayou?

  13. CAD1936 says:

    …..and consider the practical aspect of this occurrence, what are these people’s properties going to be worth now? Even if the chemicals are going to found as harmless?

    The energy industry doesn’t have to worry about this in Texas as the new Tort laws make it impractical to bring such a law suit. They get a free ride in this state from now on.

  14. CAD1936 says:

    Signal is right but he should go further to mention the possible dangers, if any, attached to these synthetic chemicals, and the absolute necessity of having well funded, educated active oversight of fracking! The final analysis should be in the hands of independent testing companies, agreed to by both the government and the industry complaining. It should be paid for but run by independent government audited labs. I know that the costs would be factored into to what we pay for our energy but well worth it.

    NoWinning complains of the credibility of the EPA! Gee, if there is a credibility problem, I think 75% of the American people would agree that its with the O & G industry. What a joke!

  15. Rah says:

    I lived in a house in 1994 on the North East corner of the Boysen Reservoir or 30 miles east of the EPA test well. The well water smelled of rotten eggs (a very low lever of H2S) and had small black specs of oil floating in it. All of the well water in this area has traces of oil and gas in it. Draw your own conclusions about the EPA’s choice of sample locations.

  16. Signal2Noise says:

    The issue is very simple – are synthetic chemicals used in fracking showing up, at ANY level, in the area’s groundwater? If so, FAIL, by Encana. If independent labs test prove the existence of these synthetic chemicals, then by definition, Encana’s operations have impacted Pavilion’s fresh water. This is by no means a conclusive report on fracking, but a failure of a company’s ops and safety procedures.

  17. Cris says:

    Helen, heavy metals are colorless. Houston water is rife with colorless heavy chemicals that exceed the limits for human consumption. Benzene is colorless and highly carcinogenic. Toluene is colorless. Best read up on these. Colorless doesn’t mean safe to drink.

  18. bkbirge says:

    API can suck it. Go drink the water from those wells you industry apologizer fools. And make sure your family does too.

  19. EmSeeDubayou says:

    If nicotine is bad for you then fracking must be bad, too.

    Nice point Jerry, Not.

  20. Jerry says:

    This reminds me of congressional testimony back in 1994:
    MR. WILLIAM CAMPBELL (CEO Phillip Morris)
    “I believe nicotine is not addictive, yes.”

    MR. JAMES JOHNSTON (CEO RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company)
    “Mr. Congressman, cigarettes and nicotine clearly do not meet the classic definition of addiction. There is no intoxication.”

    MR. JOSEPH TADDEO (President, U.S. Tobacco Company)
    “I don’t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive.”

    MR. ANDREW TISCH (CEO, Lorillard Tobacco Company)
    “I believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

    MR. EDWARD HORRIGAN (CEO, Liggett Group Inc)
    “I believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

    MR. THOMAS SANDEFUR (CEO, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.)
    “I believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

    MR. DONALD JOHNSTON (CEO, American Tobacco Co.)
    “And I, too, believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

  21. helen says:

    Sorry, I live in Houston and haven’t seen ANY contaminated water. I have family living all over Texas and none of THEM have seen any contaminated water. The EPA probably hasn’t seen any contaminated water either but they have heard about it. That’s about how scientific they are.

    Ask yourself — if all the experts work for oil companies/drilling companies/service companies, just WHO works for the EPA? Yes, you’re right. Those who work for the EPA couldn’t get a job with any of the oil companies/drilling companies/service companies because they are not qualified!

  22. Cris says:

    There’s a reason there is an EPA. To protect the American public from the “benefits outweigh the costs” attitude that oil and gas companies have here in America and abroad. Many people all over the world are forced to drink contaminated and carcinogenic waters due to oil and gas companies total disregard for humankind. Equador is a prime example of this type of exploitation. Oil and gas companies have ravaged that country for decades, leaving a toxic slew in their wake. Mining companies are also guilty. Any process that uses dangerous chemicals to extract ore, gas, oil, coal etc. leave behind toxic trailings.

    I think every oil, gas and mining CEO and their families should be forced to drink and bathe in the contaminated waters.

  23. CAD1936 says:

    The API, what a group of unbiased folks!

    I think that all the members of the API should be furnished with the water those folks have to drink and take showers in that water. A number of local physicians have told me that if they would do so they probably wouldn’t be around too much longer making objections that would profit our water, air and environment.

    Some bloggers here complaining about the “air pollution hysteria” should go up to the pulmonary ward a Texas Children’s and get an education. But then they don’t like for the facts to get in the way of their conclusions.

    • Frackon says:

      It is easy to blame big oil and gas. It gets old all the whining. Yes there should be regs, responsibility and accountability on industry’s part. So for all you folks trashing oil and gas people, please hang up your car keys, stop heating cooling your homes, give up on store bought food, trash those plastic and circuit board ithings you play with and go live in a grass hut’

  24. nspector says:

    Looks like all of the posters here work in the oil industry and are for cancer. Guess it’s not enough that we’ve made most surface water undrinkable so now we need to go after the people who are trying to keep ground water clean. Hope you losers someday have to regret your narrow views!

  25. Adler says:

    Does anyone really believe the EPA could drill their own wells without introducing contaminants?

    Let’s not forget that these were the fine folks who brought us the MBTE debacle, then blamed the oil companies.

  26. txloanguy says:

    The EPA use fuzzy figures to make their case? Holder and Obama sue companies for nothing? They also go after states that just want to protect their citizens? This Administration will do anything to further their Agenda.

  27. Woodlands Dad says:

    It is sad that the scientific community in this country has been hijacked for political purposes, first by the global warming debacle, then by the air polution hysteria and now this.

  28. Pete says:

    the EPA has an agenda and will not let facts get in the way!

  29. NoWhining says:

    The EPA has become a laughing stock when it comes to credibility. Can you say alarmist, political motivation.
    Stopped in 2010. 2012 time to end this bad experiment in government.