Weatherford Democrat

Front Page

January 17, 2013

Altering the Flow

EPA changed course after oil company protested in long-standing legal battle over gas-tainted water supply

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | Associated Press

When a Parker County man reported his family’s drinking water had begun bubbling like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing. Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers to his family. His water supply contains so much methane that the gas in water flowing from a pipe connected to the well can be ignited.

“I just can’t believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn’t use it,” said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood south of Weatherford.

The case isn’t the first in which the EPA initially linked a hydraulic fracturing operation to water contamination and then softened its position after the industry protested.

A similar dispute unfolded in west-central Wyoming in late 2011, when the EPA released an initial report that showed hydraulic fracturing could have contaminated groundwater. After industry and GOP leaders went on the attack, the agency said it had decided to do more testing. It has yet to announce a final conclusion.

Text Only
Front Page
  • Animal shelter throwing a party

    The Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter made a promise to its staff, volunteers and rescues that if the shelter was able to achieve a 90 percent live release rate by the end of March, the shelter would throw a community-wide party to celebrate its accomplishments.

    April 16, 2014

  • Veterans Memorial Rendering.jpg Cabin fever

    Weatherford Parks and Recreation officials are looking to renovate two areas to make them more user friendly.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Parker County man killed in single-vehicle wreck

    A 60-year-old Parker County man was killed around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a one-vehicle crash in the 2100 block of FM Road 3325, also known as Farmer Road.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 one kidfish.jpg Catching some fun at KidFish

    “Is there anything better than spending time with your kids and teaching them the joys of fishing?” James Shaker, a lifetime Weatherford resident, asked Saturday. “I don’t think so.”

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fund set up for family after losing home

    Two streets down and hours after many members of the East Parker County community gathered April 5 to present a new home built with donations to a local family in need, another family in the West Oak subdivision lost their home to a fire and is now in need of support from the community. 

    April 15, 2014

  • County wins grant, approves road plan

    New funding to improve county roads and a new plan to rank them according to their need for repair moved forward hand-in-hand at Monday’s Parker County Commissioners’ Court meeting.

    April 15, 2014

  • IMG_6890.jpg WC’s new Allied Health Building nears completion

    Construction crews are in high swing as the completion date for Weatherford College’s new Don Allen Allied Health Building nears.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_6862.jpg Keeping alive the story of Mary Martin

    Mary Martin historian George Dansker gave a heartwarming lecture about the Weatherford-born Broadway actress many didn’t know during a fundraising dinner honoring her 100th birthday Thursday night.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Assessing the needs

    For the last few weeks, Weatherford ISD has had some new faces on campuses as engineers and architects of Huckabee & Associates have busily been assessing district facility needs.

    April 12, 2014

  • AP: Ohio geologists link seismic activity to fracking

    State geologists in Ohio believe they have for the first time linked earthquake activity in the Utica shale to hydraulic fracturing, and the state says it is issuing new permit conditions in seismic-sensitive areas.

    April 11, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks