EPA Reverses Itself on Texas Contamination Case

Mar 30, 2012

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad few weeks for EPA. First, multiple federal courts--including the Supreme Court--have smacked down EPA for overreach and “magical thinking.” Then today, the agency reversed a fifteen-month-old order that blamed Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources for contaminating drinking water with methane as the result of hydraulic fracturing.

The Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates natural gas drilling, didn’t find Range Resources responsible for the contamination, but that didn’t stop EPA from jumping to conclusions.

EPA has a bad habit of jumping to conclusions about the “dangers” from hydraulic fracturing. In cases in Dimock, PA and Pavillion, WY, EPA had to step back from blaming hydraulic fracturing as the cause of water contamination.

Karen Harbert, President of the Institute for 21st Century Energy sharply criticized the agency:

Yet again, EPA has to retreat after an initial overreach.  In the last two weeks, multiple federal courts--including the Supreme Court-- have sharply criticized EPA for overstepping its boundaries and inventing new authority.  In this case, the EPA has withdrawn an order after it became clear that they had acted without fully comprehending the details and science behind the case. This represents at least the third case where EPA rushed to judgment against unconventional oil and natural gas development only to find the scientific facts didn't support its rhetoric.  For decades, states and interstate compacts have regulated hydraulic fracturing and have far more experience with this issue.  The last thing our nation needs is the EPA adding new layers of regulation, especially since its recent track record is so poor, as demonstrated yet again by today's action.

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