Power & Water

EnCana wants fracking expert on EPA’s Pavillion review panel

This week EnCana Oil & Gas USA continued to criticize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s implication of hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — in the Pavillion groundwater pollution investigation and for how EPA has carried out the investigation, most recently questioning the pending independent peer review process for EPA’s Pavillion “draft report.”

EnCana spokesman Doug Hock told WyoFile today that the company is unsure which classification EPA will apply to the draft report, but EnCana is asking that EPA conduct a “Highly Influential Scientific Assessment” peer review, which the company considers to be the most thorough.

EnCana is also concerned that the independent peer review panel of experts may be lacking, and should include experts in the disciplines of “petroleum engineering; Wind River geology and hydrology; geophysics; hydraulic fracturing; geochemistry (including isotopic chemistry); analytical chemistry; microbiology; cement bonding and logging; sample collection quality assurance and quality control; monitoring well design, construction and sampling; and, water well design construction and maintenance.”

“We remain very concerned by the short list of primary disciplines that the EPA identified in its Peer Review Plan,” EnCana Oil & Gas USA president Jeff E. Wojahn wrote in a January 10 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

On Friday, EnCana asked EPA to suspend  the draft report public comment period that began December 14 and is scheduled to close January 27. Hock explained that EnCana filed a Freedom of Information Act with EPA in December asking for a large volume of data that EnCana officials believe EPA has not made public.

“Our concern is they (EPA) haven’t responded to the Freedom of Information Act request, and the clock is ticking,” Hock told WyoFile today, referring to the current public comment period.

EnCana, along with Wyoming’s governor and the state’s top regulatory officials, have sharply criticized EPA and its draft report of the Pavillion groundwater investigation ever since it was released on December 8. In a press release accompanying the report, EPA stated, “The draft report indicates that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”

EnCana and state officials have said the EPA’s sampling events were too few to draw any conclusions, and noted that some “blank” control samples turned up contaminated. They also complained that the two water monitoring wells drilled at the direction of EPA were sunk awfully close to the actual petroleum production zone, potentially fouling the integrity of the sampling.

Check back later for a full report.

Related stories:

EnCana to EPA: Stop public comment on Pavillion fracking report

 — EPA Pavillion report stokes fire over fracking

— Find the source in Pavillion

— EPA finds compound used in fracking in Wyoming aquifer

— One man’s mystery leads to backlash against fracking

Contact Dustin Bleizeffer at (307) 577-6069 or dustin@wyofile.com.

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Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 25 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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