New Information About Hydraulic Fracturing in Pavillion, Wyoming

New information about hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion, Wyoming has emerged. A new news article by the Casper paper lays out details that were not included in EPA’s draft report. It also says that the EPA’s conclusions are partly based on the EPA’s own data, including samples from six private drinking-water wells.

In response to the EPA report, the state of Wyoming and the city of Pavillion have re-tested the water that private well owners and residents drink. The results of these tests are consistent with EPA’s 2010 findings, and generally fall below established health and safety standards. However, the findings are not definitive, and the state has yet to make any determinations regarding the health impacts of fracking.

Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead has also sent a letter to the EPA’s Administrator Lisa Jackson. Mead stressed the importance of sound science, and asked the agency to clarify the peer-review process for the Pavillion report. The EPA has yet to provide Wyoming with an official response to these requests.

EPA’s findings on fracking in Marcellus shale formation
The EPA’s findings about hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale formation have received a lot of criticism. The organization identified more than two dozen impacts to water and hundreds of spills to soil. Its findings were criticized by environmentalists and industry representatives. Even top EPA officials were “disappointed” with the draft study. In response, the EPA changed its news release, which highlighted the risks to drinking water.

While the EPA has the authority to oversee and manage the effects on drinking water, the industry is largely regulated by states. Industry groups have fought the EPA’s findings, arguing that there are no documented cases of groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing. The EPA study, however, could have led to increased state oversight and restrictions on fracking in certain communities.

After Pennsylvania declared a voluntary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale formation, it was forced to increase its monitoring and reporting of wastewater from fracking. This policy led to a significant reduction in Marcellus waste, but the state’s policy left a loophole for operators of older oil and gas wells.

Drilling companies’ precautions to protect water supplies
Hydraulic fracturing, a popular oil and gas extraction process, is a hot topic these days, as people are increasingly concerned about the effects of the process on their drinking water. While drilling companies are required to protect water supplies from contamination, they are not always able to protect the water wells of local residents.

Chemicals in fracturing fluids are toxic to both humans and wildlife, and some are known to cause cancer. Examples include petroleum distillates such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. Other potentially harmful substances include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), formaldehyde, and glycol ethers.

The chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing pose both a short-term and long-term threat to drinking water quality. In addition to affecting water quality in the short-term, the fluids can persist in the ground for years.

Induced earthquakes linked to fracking
While the causes of earthquakes are still largely unknown, induced earthquakes linked to hydraulic fracturing may play a role in triggering these disasters. The drilling process is similar to a laboratory experiment that involves a large volume of fluid moving underground.

The process involves drilling a long steel pipe into the earth and horizontally extending the wellbore. Then, a highly pressurized fluid is pumped through the pipe. This fluid contains a combination of water, sand, salt, and additives that can cause the rocks in underground formations to crack. Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to small earthquakes in Oklahoma and Ohio. Scientists have documented over 600 small earthquakes in the same region with magnitudes ranging from 2.0 to 3.8.

Despite the fact that induced earthquakes are rare, they still occur. In western Canada, for example, small earthquakes often occur during or right after fracking. Because they are so small, they tend to occur only in a small geographic area. Interestingly, the area had a history of little seismic activity until fracking began in the region.

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