The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced it has backed away from its controversial study alleging groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing activities in Pavillion, Wyo. The study, released in December of 2011, was met with a firestorm of criticism and concerns, including the absence of peer review prior to the report's release, a lack of data transparency, failure to adhere to information quality guidelines, and poor sampling and monitoring techniques that called into question the validity of the results.
Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah): "I am happy to hear the EPA give up on this report and its erroneous conclusions, and conceded that state-level expertise and capabilities are most appropriate for overseeing safe and responsible energy production. This news is further evidence that the agency was more interested in pursuing headlines than sound science in its misguided and mishandled investigation in Pavillion. I can only hope the agency will learn from this mistake, as well as the mistakes made in Parker County, Texas and Dimock, Penn. and think twice before it smears the reputation of a community without the facts, data and conclusions to back up its allegations. In the coming weeks, I plan to more closely examine what went wrong to prevent these sorts of mistakes from being repeated and look forward to the Science Committee's continued leadership on this issue."
After the release of the draft report in 2011, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing in which witnesses pointed out the flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings of the EPA investigation in Pavillion, including failure to coordinate with the state of Wyoming and utilize the expertise of state regulators with experience in both the issues and the unique geologic conditions on the ground. In response to criticism of its handling of the investigation, EPA had extended the comment period on the report, set to conclude in January of this year, to September in an unprecedented nine month extension.