On December 8, 2011, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft report on its investigation of groundwater near Pavillion, Wyoming. The EPA's news release stated: "The draft report indicates that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing."
The EPA's draft report and current view is based on a possibility, not a conclusion built upon peer-reviewed science. The cause of the compounds in the water remains inconclusive.
We live and work in the communities where we operate and we care about the impacts of energy development on the environment. We work very hard to ensure our operations do not impact groundwater. That's why Encana has worked extensively with the EPA and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality in their investigations into this matter. Encana disagrees with the EPA's statement that the source of the compounds in the groundwater is likely associated with hydraulic fracturing from natural gas development.
The Pavillion area natural groundwater has a long history of poor quality. Recent drinking water sample results are consistent with studies published by the U.S. Geological Survey and others over the past 50 years, prior to natural gas development in the area. The poor water quality is due to sulfates, sodium, total dissolved solids and pH which commonly exceed state and federal drinking water standards. The nature of the area geology is that natural gas has always been known to exist at shallow depths in the Pavillion natural gas field.
It's important to note that:
The EPA tested domestic water wells and found no indication of impacts from oil and gas development.
The EPA drilled two deep monitoring wells into a natural gas reservoir and found components of natural gas, which is an entirely expected result. Natural gas developers didn't put the natural gas there, nature did.
The characterization of the ground water as highly contaminated is not supported by the data. Encana continues to test and document well bore integrity under the direction of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The EPA report is of concern to the State of Wyoming and members of Congress. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, have called for more research. Senator Inhofe has expressed concern that the EPA has pre-determined results that remain inconclusive.
Encana remains committed to seeing that the investigations into determining the source of the compounds found in the Pavillion groundwater are backed by sound science that is reviewed by independent peers.