Pavillion residents feel betrayed by EPA report delay

May 7, 2012

A group of Pavillion residents says Wyoming officials betrayed them by delaying the release of information tentatively connecting hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution in the area.

An Associated Press investigation shows that Gov. Matt Mead convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to delay its draft report on the contamination by a full month. Mead and other state officials used the extra time to try and debunk the findings before they could harm the oil and gas industries.

The EPA has since agreed to conduct more testing and submit to further scientific review before compiling a final report.

Mead had been unaware that the EPA recently re-tested well water in the Pavillion area and told the A-P, quote, “I won’t tell anybody not to test. But if you’re going to test, you need to bring everyone into the process.”

Resident John Fenton is the chair of the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens. He called Mead’s statement “the height of hypocrisy.”

“They didn’t bring everybody into the process,” Fenton said. “They had a month of scheming and trying to cut this EPA study to pieces, and completely excluded those of us living here, who are dealing with this on a day to day basis.”

Fenton says he’s sure the EPA report will reaffirm the connection between fracking and groundwater pollution, but he’s not sure it will help.

“I think you could provide overwhelming, irrefutable evidence, and you’re still gonna have certain people in industry and in the government that are gonna deny and are gonna try to find a way to find fault in the findings.”

A statement released by Fenton’s group says the state’s “delaying tactics” have allowed the contamination to continue, with no plans to address impacts to the residents.