EPA probe demands more water testing in Texas

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm •  Published: December 24, 2013
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But the Texas Railroad Commission was doing its own investigation, and it disputed the EPA's findings. The state agency insisted the aquifer had long been naturally contaminated with methane and that Range Resources was not to blame. The company accepted the state's finding and disputed the EPA's, setting the stage for a lengthy, bitter and expensive legal fight.

The sides settled in March 2012, with Range Resources agreeing to test the North Texas wells for a year and share the findings with the EPA. But the company admitted no guilt and wasn't ordered to provide residents with another water source.

The settlement prompted Republican Texas congressmen to publicly accuse the EPA, and its Region 6 head, Al Armendariz, of going after Range Resources for no good reason and demand an investigation.

On Tuesday, Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the company was still reviewing the inspector general's report. But he said the company agrees with Texas' finding that, "Range's activities did not cause or contribute to the long-standing matter of naturally occurring methane."

He did not immediately respond to questions about the company's testing or the recommendation that the EPA determine the future risk to residents.

To residents who live in the area, though, Tuesday's report is only the beginning.

"The truth has only started. This is only a piece of it," Lipsky said, noting that he no longer uses the water from his well. Instead, he pays hundreds of dollars a month for an alternate source, but he said some of his neighbors still use the well water.

"The holding tanks in people's garages are going to explode and I don't care where it's coming from, someone is going to get killed," Lipsky said.

To Armendariz, who was repeatedly attacked for the EPA actions against Range Resources, the inspector general's report is "complete and total vindication of the work we did at EPA."

"Our evidence was solid and we followed the law, and all rules and regulations," said Armendariz, who now works for the Sierra Club.

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Plushnick-Masti can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RamitMastiAP



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