Revealed: EPA Fracking Study Rebukes Agency’s Own Safety Claims, DeSmog Exclusive: Censored EPA PA fracking water contamination presentation published for first time by Steve Horn, August 5, 2013, Common Dreams
The PowerPoint’s conclusions are damning.
DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study’s findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 – in the thick of election year – saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.
Titled “Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effets on the Aquifer,” the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas’ Dimock Gesford 2 well, “Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface…In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality.” Other charts depict Cabot’s Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels – not coincidentally – coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint’s conclusions are damning. …
“Methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking and other gas well work…Methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.” Despite the findings, the official EPA desk statement concluded any groundwater contamination in Dimock was “naturally occurring.” …
Two EPA whistleblowers recently approached the American Tradition Institute and revealed politics were at-play in the decision to censor the EPA’s actual findings in Dimock. At the heart of the cover-up was former EPA head Lisa Jackson. EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan explained the studies were dropped – according to one of the unidentified whistleblowers close to the field team in Dimock – “out of fear the inquiries would hurt President Obama’s re-election chances.” “Many members of the email group…were lawyers and members of Lisa Jackson’s inner political circle,” explained Soraghan.
Though the two EPA career employees’ initial findings pointed to water contamination in Dimock – as seen in the PowerPoint presentation – their superiors told them to stop the investigation, in turn motivating them to blow the whistle. One of the whistleblowers said he came forward due to witnessing “patently unethical and possibility illegal acts conducted by EPA management.”
“I have for over a year now worked within the system to try and make right the injustice and apparent unethical acts I witnessed. I have not been alone in this effort,” the unnamed whistleblower told Soraghan. … At the center of the management team overseeing the false desk statement: former EPA head Lisa Jackson, who now works as Apple’s top environmental advisor. Jackson was recently replaced by just-confirmed EPA head Gina McCarthy. This was revealed by the other whistleblower, who as part of the regular duties of his job, was a member of the “HQ-Dimock” email listserv. On that list, Jackson went by the pseudonym “Richard Windsor” as a way to shield her real name from potential Freedom of Information Act requests.
Scott Ely – a former Cabot employee and Dimock resident who has three small children and whose water was contaminated by Cabot – expressed similar despair over EPA abandoning ship in this high-profile study. … Ely says he keeps an open line of communications with EPA employees, who regularly check in and caution him not to use his water. The employees remain unidentified for fear of retribution by EPA upper-level management. “We thought EPA was going to come in and be our savior. And what’d they do? They said the truth can’t be known: hide it, drop it, forget about it.”
Why No One Trusts Oil Companies On Fracking by Lorne Steffy, August 5, 2013, Forbes
The company allowed its lawyer to press for the settlement terms and to threaten enforcement. What’s more, reporters were barred from the original hearing and the Pittsburgh paper had to go to court to get the records unsealed. Range, in other words, is looking like a company that has something to hide. In fact, it seems so afraid of what might be revealed about its practices that it is trying to silence the mouths of babes.
Now that the story is getting [international] attention, the company’s best response is that it doesn’t agree with its own lawyers. … It’s not clear from the story what the family’s health claims were or whether a link to fracking was proved. But that issue once again gets overshadowed by an oil companies’ bully tactics. … This sort of behavior is exactly why the public doesn’t trust the energy industry. What can it do about it? Well, for starters, it could stop getting gag orders against children. [Emphasis added]
In Dimock, opponent neither surprised nor hopeful over EPA leak by David Falchek, August 1, 2013, The Times Tribune
Ray Kemble was neither surprised nor hopeful to hear that Environmental Protection Agency officials learned of the potential of methane contamination from drilling activity before declaring his well water safe to drink last year. He holds little faith in the federal agency that gave a clean bill of health to the murky, smelly water he says comes from his home’s water well, directly across the street from Costello 1, a well developed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. … Mr. Kemble’s view of the natural gas industry began with skepticism, evolved into disappointment, and is now in opposition. He never thought he would get rich from his six-acre mineral rights lease to Cabot at the dawn of the Marcellus rush in 2008. He remembers his first check, for $5,100, which was nice. For several years, he even drove a truck for a contractor serving the natural gas industry. The royalty checks shrank. His last royalty check, for $3, arrived about two years ago.
His is one of the 19 Dimock households whose water was found by the state to be tainted with methane tied to faulty gas wells in 2009. Drilling is still on hold in a section of the township because the state is evaluating whether methane levels are low enough in residential water wells to lift the ban.
His front yard is full of the anti-fracking signs. Recently, he did an interview with a Russian television station. The staff brought him a few jugs of water for his time. From a chair he can watch the activity on Costello 1 while puffing a cigar, the water from the Russians lined up at his feet. On Wednesday, he saw a flurry of activity – a cement team, followed by a residual waste truck, then a truck from the DEP. … The DEP said in July the Costello well, a vertical well and the focus of the state investigation into methane migration, is expected to be plugged with its determination it is “unviable.”
“I always say ‘I want my water back,'” Mr. Kemble said. “But I know that will never happen. The aquifer is ruined. They will never straighten that out.” [Emphasis added]
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