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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Tulsa, accuses Environmental Protection Agency of crucifying oil and gas companies

In a speech Wednesday, Sen. Inhofe said EPA made headline-grabbing claims about hydraulic fracturing to scare people, but the agency defends “strong, fair and effective” enforcement of laws.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 26, 2012
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Sen. Jim Inhofe charged Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency set out to “crucify” some oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing and made headline-grabbing claims that the agency later quietly withdrew.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said the EPA targeted natural gas wells in Wyoming, Texas and Pennsylvania to create a public perception that hydraulic fracturing threatened drinking water. The agency's actions were part of the Obama administration's “all-out war on hydraulic fracturing,” the senator said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into a well to fracture rock and let oil and gas escape.

Cynthia Giles, the EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said Wednesday, “Strong, fair and effective enforcement of the environmental laws passed by Congress is critical to protecting public health and ensuring that all companies, regardless of industry, are playing by the same rules.

“Enforcement is essential to the effectiveness of our environmental laws, ensuring that public health is protected and that companies that play by the rules are not at a disadvantage. The same holds true for companies involved in responsible and safe development of our nation's domestic energy resources.”

Inhofe released a video clip from 2010 showing EPA official Al Armendariz, a regional administrator based in Dallas, talking about his approach to enforcing regulations. In the video, from a town hall meeting in Dish, Texas, Armendariz says that oil and gas enforcement is a priority for the region and that “we're going to spend a fair amount of time looking into oil and gas production.”

View the video on YouTube

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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Background

The EPA has been working on a broad study about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water; an initial draft of that study is expected by the end of this year.

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