Groups want broad EPA probe of tainted Texas water

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The EPA did not immediately comment on the letter, however, in the past, the agency has said dropping the action against Range Resources allowed it to ‘shift its focus in this case away from litigation and toward a joint effort on the science and safety of energy extraction.’

Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press reports that more than 80 environmental groups have demanded a broad investigationinto whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency behaved improperly by abruptly dropping enforcement actions against a gas driller. Environmental groups had accused Range Resources of contaminating water with explosive methane and cancer-causing benzene from its drilling operations in Weatherford, a town west of Fort Worth, according to the AP.

The groups note that when the EPA dropped its enforcement actions and ended a legal battle with Range Resources, it did not mention an analysis done by Geoffrey Thyne, an independent scientist who was hired by the agency to analyze water samples it collected from more than 30 water wells in the Weatherford area. Thyne had concluded that the gas found in the water wells was similar to the gas Range Resources was producing from the Barnett shale rock formation.

Thyne’s document, obtained by the AP, has never been made public by the EPA. The inspector general should consider in his investigation why the EPA made no mention of that study when critics said the actions against Range Resources lacked scientific credibility, the environmental groups’ letter argued.

According to the AP story, Range Resources has denied it contaminated Texas water, saying the gas in the water was from a different rock formation and does not originate in the Barnett shale. The environmental groups claim the EPA is denying the public of its right to know what was in the independent report, the article said.


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