New DEQ director discusses his take on Pavillion and new energy development

Nov 13, 2012

The new director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality says he’s not sure what his agency will do long-term, to address groundwater contamination in Pavillion.

The EPA tentatively linked the contamination to fracking, but the state and energy industries questioned the science behind their study, so they collected a new set of data and are now analyzing it.

DEQ Director Todd Parfitt wouldn’t say what he’ll do if the results confirm that fracking caused the contamination.

“I don’t want to speculate as to what the results will or will not show, and I think once we have all the analysis done and have seen the results, and can agree on what the correct interpretation is, then I think we can start to look at how to move forward with whatever the science tells us,” Parfitt said.

Parfitt also says he hopes to improve communication with citizens in areas that are seeing new energy development.

Residents in Converse County worry that new oil wells near their homes could pose environmental and health threats, and they say the DEQ and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission haven’t been taking their concerns seriously.

Parfitt says he’s ready to listen and has already spoken with one resident, and with the Oil and Gas Commission.

“I think the key is to have that open communication between the agencies with the community … and identify those areas where there are concerns and identify what regulations we might have in place that address those particular issues,” he said.

Parfitt took over as DEQ director after the former director, John Corra, retired last month.