The notion that the best thing for our human health, environment and wildlife is more mining and drilling and less (or loosened) regulation somehow continues to gain traction in today’s anti-federal government environment. It was with a straight face that Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) told a group of reporters in August that companies must be allowed to extract minerals at full-scale so that they are profitable, and in return that profitability allows them to use the best new technologies to minimize environmental impacts.
This new emphasis on pits and well bores may please local residents as well as industry. Residents say it’s essential to understand the source of the pollution to avoid long-term health dangers. And the oil and gas industry claims that the drinking water contamination has been unfairly pinned on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Neighbors suspect the contamination does has something to do with natural gas wells interspersed throughout the area where oil and gas has been developed over several decades. Most recently, EnCana Oil & Gas USA bought the field from Tom Brown Inc. in 2004 and performed several frack treatments on the wells.
However, some residents say fracking may not be the single cause of the water problem, or even a contributor.
State and industry officials have repeated the “no documented case” mantra ever since the Pavillion fracking trial began many years ago. Rather than instill confidence in their ability protect drinking water, state and industry official run the risk of appearing disingenuous in their pursuit of definitively finding answers in this matter.
At a University of Wyoming forum on hydraulic fracturing on Monday, some attendees questioned whether Wyoming’s leaders are too chummy with the industry to fix identified regulatory loopholes and generally look after non-industry interests with sufficient enthusiasm.
“All we lack is some leadership in this state to deal with these issues that are so important to (Wyoming citizens) who are not represented,” said Pete Jorgenson, a former Democratic Wyoming House Representative from Jackson.