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Wyoming water pollution linked with fracking

An EPA test well in Pavilion, Wyoming, where the agency found pollutants in groundwater and drinking water wells. The EPA said the chemicals are likely linked with natural gas drilling and related fracking operations.

Draft EPA report on Pavilion water contamination posted for public comment

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —After a two-year investigation in Wyoming, the EPA this week released a draft report that links polluted groundwater in the town of Pavilion with nearby gas drilling and related fracking operations.

The EPA teamed up with gas field owner Encana to assess groundwater quality in the area and to identify potential sources of contamination.

The EPA’s analysis of samples taken fromdeep monitoring wells in the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Benzene concentrations are  well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels were also detectecd.

Given the area’s complex geology and the proximity of drinking water wells to ground water contamination, the EPA is concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time. Continue reading

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Summit Voice: Weekend headlines

Catch up with the weekend stories at a glance …

One of our weekend stories provided updated information on land-use management plans for about 900,000 acres of BLM lands in northwestern Colorado.

SUMMIT COUNTY —A couple of stories about ongoing natural gas and fracking controversies in Colorado, climate change coverage and a piece on the corporate influence of Coca Cola in National Park Service policy topped the weekend news.

Colorado: County denies public comment on gas drilling

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

State officials can’t produce notification emails in court; Huerfano County attorney claims citizens have no right to be notified of applications and approvals

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Some Huerfano County citizens say they are disturbed that their county commissioners say that the county doesn’t have to inform citizens of state-level applications for new oil and drilling permits.

The county’s attorney, Garrett Sheldon, recently filed motions in Denver District Court claiming that the elected officials weren’t obligated to notify constituents about a Shell Oil application to drill a well near La Veta — despite state rules that call for public involvement.

The motions came in response to a July 8 lawsuit filed by Citizens for Huerfano County, seeking to have the state permit vacated. The group wants the application process restarted with opportunity for public comment, including a public hearing with the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission. Continue reading

Energy: The FRAC Act is back in Congress

A U.S. Government map shows where there are potential reserves of natural gas captured in shale and sand.

Proposed law would require disclosure of chemicals used in controversial gas-driling technique and end a Bush-era exemption from the drinking water regulations

By Summit Voice

Follow Summit Voice on Twitter for the most up-to-date news feed.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Residents of natural gas patches around the country who have seen their drinking water polluted to the point that it sometimes catches fire would get some relief under the FRAC Act.

The proposed law, introduced this week in Congress for the third time, would require energy companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and most importantly, close a loophole that exempts drilling operators from drinking water regulations. Continue reading

Natural gas drilling: what we don’t know (and should)

A map of the Roan Plateau in Western Colorado detailing some of the proposed natural gas drilling in the area.

A look at the state of the latest science on the impacts of natural gas drilling, from the nonprofit, independent newsroom of ProPublica – reprinted by permission.

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica – December 31, 2009

It takes brute force to wrest natural gas from the earth. Millions of gallons of chemical-laden water mixed with sand — under enough pressure to peel paint from a car — are pumped into the ground, pulverizing a layer of rock that holds billions of small bubbles of gas.

The chemicals transform the fluid into a frictionless mass that works its way deep into the earth, prying open tiny cracks that can extend thousands of feet. The particles of sand or silicon wedge inside those cracks, holding the earth open just enough to allow the gas to slip by.

Gas drilling is often portrayed as the ultimate win-win in an era of hard choices: a new, 100-year supply of cleaner-burning fuel, a risk-free solution to the nation’s dependence on foreign energy. In the next 10 years, the United States will use the fracturing technology to drill hundreds of thousands of new wells astride cities, rivers and watersheds. Cash-strapped state governments are pining for the revenue and the much-needed jobs that drilling is expected to bring to poor, rural areas.

Drilling companies assert that the destructive forces unleashed by the fracturing process, including the sometimes toxic chemicals that keep the liquid flowing, remain safely sealed as much as a mile or more beneath the earth, far below drinking water sources and the rest of the natural environment.

More than a year of investigation by ProPublica [1], however, shows that the issues are far less settled than the industry contends, and that hidden environmental costs could cut deeply into the anticipated benefits. Continue reading

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