Has the EPA Become Just Another Environmental Activist Group?

I’ll let you be the judge. The Washington Examiner recently ran this story by Mark Tapscott, “Emails, other documents show EPA in bed with Big Green groups”.  Mr. Tapscott introduces his subject with this:

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official crowed about his agency’s decision to issue an emergency order stopping a natural gas drilling operation in Texas to Big Green environmentalists before informing state officials of the action, according to emails and sworn statements obtained by Energy in Depth (EID).

The emergency order was issued despite objections from an EPA scientists that there was insufficient data available to justify it. 

“[T]his is not conclusive evidence because of the limited data set,” said EPA scientist Dr. Doug Beak in an internal memo to agency colleagues.

“The only way now to compare the data would be to make assumptions to fill in data gaps and I don’t believe we have enough experience at this site or data to do this at this time,” Beak said.

And the Big Green Winnies were delighted with the EPA decision, as Mr. Tapscott tells us:

With or without hard data to justify it, the emergency order drew expressions of delight from Sharon Wilson, director of the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), who responded with a “Yee Haw!” and “Hats off to the new Sheriff and his deputies!”

The story goes on to tell us that the “new sheriff” was Region Six EPA Administrator Al Armendariz. Apparently Mr. Armendariz told a number of his environmental activist friends about his decision before he notified state oficials in Texas.

At issue here is that a gas drilling company was drilling and using the fracking technique to develop a gas field in north Texas near Parker. Fracking is a technique that environmentalist have been trying to get outlawed for some time. They believe that fracking causes ground water contamination. however, they have never been able to prove it. In this case the EPA found methane in the ground water of Parker area. So, it would seem that the EPA had good reason to shut down this drilling operation. But there is one small detail that the EPA decided to ignore. The EPA and the drilling company both knew that the ground water was contaminated with methane before the drilling operations began. In other words, methane was present in the ground water naturally.

For more information, Mr. Tapscott gives a link to an article at Energy In Depth (EID). Let’s go to the EID article to see what an EPA official had to say when deposed about the missing data: 

…. EPA Regional 6 official John Blevins finally sat for a court-ordered deposition in New Orleans, where he was asked a series of straightforward questions. Questions like: Did EPA have prior knowledge of the fact that methane had been detected in water wells in Parker County long before Range ever arrived on the scene? Blevins: “[Y]es, we were aware of those facts.” Did you include those facts in the administrative record? “[W]e do not believe those facts were … germane or relevant to the issue at hand.”

Ok. But at least EPA took a look at the Strawn Formation, right? The shallower, non-producing, higher-in-nitrogen formation that most experts now believe was the actual source of the natural gas in the Parker Co. wells? Blevins: “Not related to this case, no.” But obviously the nitrogen profile of the methane is an important factor in determining where the methane originated, right? “It’s a factor, yes.” So you’re saying no one at EPA even looked at it? “I don’t believe that I could say EPA has an expert to opine on the nitrogen levels within any gas source.” Then how were you able to determine the pathway? “That was not what we needed to issue the order on.” What, EPA just couldn’t do the work? “The Agency could do the work. The Agency doesn’t believe that we need to do the work.” Come again?

There is more interesting stuff in the EID article. It’s worth reading.

What I find mind boggling in all this is the new investigative technique that the EPA has developed, which as best as I can discern goes like this: first they start out with the conclusions they want to prove and then work backwards to prove their conclusions and any data the doesn’t fit is ignored. Lovely!

So, you tell me. Has the EPA become just another environmental activist group?


24 thoughts on “Has the EPA Become Just Another Environmental Activist Group?

  1. Right on… This looked like the salvation for Pennsylvania which has huge deposits of Nat gas. The companies were paying thousands of dollars for the rights, the State was going to make out like a bandit with tax revenue. Much on State land, so would receive the rights fees as well. You know the rest of the story….it has come to a halt as far as I have heard. Thousands of jobs on hold, enegry costs would have gone down…..

  2. That’s putting science in its proper role that Obama promised. People thought he meant de-politicizing science, but what he meant was using pseudo-science (like… models, and theories holding sway rather than testing those models and theories and letting the results of the tests speak for themselves) to create the politically correct outcome.

    Global warm… oops… Climate Change is the same thing. I’d love to see the EPA’s budget axed, or at least have a Congressional Investigation into the agency to see whether they are accomplishing their mission (whatever the hell that was supposed to be in the beginning) versus having become a political agenda driven fiefdom that is hurting the economy of the country.

  3. As an outdoorsman, the environment is something I care deeply about. I diverge from many of my libertarian friends/colleagues whe it comes to this issue. That said, the EPA is no longer a true environmental agency. Big Green, and the agency it controls are more interested in increasing unemployment than making water cleaner.

  4. I fear that the EPA is much more dangerous than being just an activist group because they will be charged with implementing an Obama regime agenda item through dictate that Obama wasn’t able to pass through the Congress.

  5. I’m going to do a post on what they’re trying do in North Dakota with “Fracking.” Our state was warned by the EPA that they need to do a study on Fracking and the that is now working legislation through our system to block them for doing anything of the sort in the state without the state’s permission. This goes back to the basics of federalism. The states’ rights and authority are far more expansive than the federal government. Issues like fracking should be managed on a state level. In my opinion the federal government has no authority in the area because the constitution does not grant them this authority. However the constitution is been dead for years now as the government has been acting outside of the limitations imposed on them by the constitution. Great post Jim. I’ll make sure I link to this when I post my article on this.

    1. I’ll look forward to reading about what is going on in North Dakota. If it has to do with gas or oil, the EPA will look for ways to stop the project. Why can’t an agency like the EPA say “we recognize the need to develop more oil and gas resources. Let’s see if we can find a way to do that and still protect the environment.” I could live with that approach. But instead we get “stop the project any way we can.” Sigh!

  6. Great post, homie.

    The mission creep at the EPA needs to stop. Something tells me Barack Obama ain’t the president to stop it.

    1. Salome, thank you for stopping by conservatives On Fire. I just check-out your blog and I now have it on my favorites list. You have created a great resource for people that want to understand more about the oil and gas industry and energy in general.

  7. Fracking scares me. Chemicals are pumped into the ground to extract the oil and I’m worried that they may ruin our water, our land and our livestock. The EPA is worse than the fracking! It seems odd that fracking is exempt from the Safe Water Act.

    1. Hi Allison, thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I am not an expert on fracking but I am an engineer who spent 30+ years in the mining industry and I have had a lot of experience drilling through water tables and sealing them off. It is old and proven technology. Fracking is not new. There are probably thousands gas wells in existence that have used this process without mishap. Could something go wrong some day? Of course. But it would be fixable. I don’t wish to belittle your fear; but, one needs to put fear in perspective: planes crash but we keep flying. oil tankers have spills but we clean them up and continue shipping oil, etc. Whenever there are catastrophes, we respond, we learn and we move on. It is impossible to remove all risk from life.
      I don’t know if my answer has helped. I hope so.

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