Testing showed some groundwater contamination and elevated toxic air pollution after operators began using a new method — a combination of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling — to extract once out-of-reach natural gas from impermeable layers of the Barnett shale.
The EPA helped test the town's water and air, and the drillers changed some methods. Armendariz traveled to the town of 200 people to talk to residents.
On Thursday, at the White House press briefing, press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Armendariz's comments proved that the EPA's enforcement practices were unfair, such as in Pennsylvania, where testing has shown that allegations of groundwater contamination caused by fracking are false.
Carney denied that. He said Armendariz's comments were "inaccurate as a representation of, or characterization of the way that the EPA has operated under President Obama."
Oil and gas production on federal lands and waters have increased since Obama took office, he said.
Later Thursday, Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement saying the administration was "more worried about aggressively advancing its radical agenda (than) fostering job growth and expanding our economy."
Associated Press writers Dina Cappiello and Anne Gearan contributed to this report from Washington.
Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com//RamitMastiAP
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