CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead has joined those expressing disappointment that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended for a third time a public comment period on a report on groundwater pollution in a Wyoming gas field rather than moving toward wrapping up the study.
The comment period was supposed to end Tuesday. Last week, the EPA announced it would be extended to Sept. 30. That could postpone independent experts' formal review of the December, 2011, report by another eight months or more.
"Wyoming did not ask for this delay nor do we want it. This does not move us toward resolving the concerns of the landowners in the area," Mead said in a statement released Wednesday.
The report on the EPA's findings in the Pavillion area marked the first time the federal agency blamed hydraulic fracturing for a specific case of groundwater pollution. Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into oil and gas wells to fracture open rock formations and increase the flow of oil and gas.
The report widened the gap between environmentalists who characterize fracking as a threat to clean groundwater and petroleum industry officials who insist fracking is safe. Both sides agree on one thing: The comment period extension is unnecessary.
Doug Hock, spokesman for Calgary-based Encana, which owns the gas field in the Pavillion area in west-central Wyoming, said by email: "There's no credible reason for further delay."