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?