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Fracking Study Reax: The Waiting May Be the Hardest Part

PHOTO: Amber Wilson, Environmental Quality Coordinator at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, says those affected by drinking water pollution east of Pavillion need assurances from the state, as it picks up the pollution investigation. Photo courtesy of WOC
PHOTO: Amber Wilson, Environmental Quality Coordinator at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, says those affected by drinking water pollution east of Pavillion need assurances from the state, as it picks up the pollution investigation. Photo courtesy of WOC
June 25, 2013

LANDER, Wyo. - The "now what?" and "what next?" questions have been floating around since Gov. Matt Mead announced that the state will be in charge of the next phases of investigation about potential drinking-water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," east of Pavillion.

Mead announced that the state would pick up where the EPA left off, and Wyoming Outdoor Council environmental quality coordinator Amber Wilson said that's a tall order. There is uneasiness with the oil and gas company developing the area picking up the tab, but she sees that it can be done fairly.

"We can coordinate that study so that the people truly affected by this, the people who live east of Pavillion, can finally get the answers they've been waiting for, for far too long," she said.

Wilson explained that people affected by polluted well water have been experiencing the problem for years, and waiting even longer for final results will be tough. Encana Oil and Gas has been paying for water to be trucked in for those affected, and has also denied that its activities led to the pollution.

Wilson's group is hoping for transparency and solid science so politics don't taint the research.

"Employing the best science available, drilling additional test wells if needed, retaining impartial scientific experts to oversee the science and this analysis, and obtaining independent scientific peer-reviewed results," are among the measures to be taken, according to Wilson.

She added that the Wyoming Department of Health should also investigate potential human harm from the contaminated water.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY