In a very low-key release on June 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced that they did not intend to complete their investigation of possible groundwater contamination near Pavillion, Wyoming. As we discussed in late 2011, USEPA had previously issued a draft report which indicated that drinking water in the Pavillion area was likely contaminated by chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of gas wells. As expected, this report was highly controversial. Following the release of the draft report, USEPA set in motion a follow-up investigation to collect additional information. It was expected that at some point in the future (possibly far in the future), USEPA would issue a final report of their investigation. Instead, USEPA announced that they will not finalize the report, or rely on the conclusions from the draft report. Instead, USEPA will support the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) as these two local agencies prepare a report which is supposed to be issued by September 30, 2014.
USEPA’s decision is expected to be as controversial as the original draft report, with diverging opinions as to the basis for that decision and likely no real answer.