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 More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.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
  • Rates of the rise?

    As part of an ongoing discussion, the City of Weatherford Municipal Utilities Board Thursday was taken through part two of the rate-making process for the city’s proposed capital improvement plan. The result of this plan will have a direct impact on utility rates for city customers. 

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital board moves closer to building ambulance station

    The Parker County Hospital District Board of Directors took steps Wednesday to advertise and accept bids for the construction of a Brock-area ambulance station. 

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 one arson.JPG Suspicious house fire under investigation

    The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • CPS data.jpg Case overload

    Parker County Attorney John Forrest will ask county commissioners for additional funds as county budget discussions begin this year; he hopes to hire another attorney to help with an increase in Child Protective Services cases.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • City to transfer bond funds to cover street project

    Per the recommendations of City of Weatherford staff, the Weatherford City Council Tuesday approved an ordinance amending the fiscal year 2014 budget to transfer monies from various bond funds into the general capital improvement projects fund. The reallocation of funds are from bonds designated to various street construction projects and will be consolidated into one more street construction project: the access road between Bethel Road and South Bowie Dr.

    July 23, 2014

  • Richard Adams Sr. Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges

    A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period. 

    Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0723 one trooper.jpg Living up to his name

    For a dog that has survived all odds, Trooper, a three-legged dog that is now seen at fundraisers and other Weatherford events, really does live up to his nickname, Super Trooper.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Macedo, Kelly.jpeg Couple arrested for stealing from elderly woman

    A Weatherford man and woman were arrested last week on charges that they burglarized the house of a woman in a nursing home, making off with books of checks and a rifle found by police during a traffic stop in May. 

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0723 one solar power car.jpg Powered by the sun

    About a half dozen solar-powered cars racing cross county began arriving in Weatherford late Monday afternoon. 

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cole Pritchard.jpg Becoming tech savvy

    Monday afternoon, Weatherford Public Library was home to local teens with a “techie” appetite. As a part of the library’s Young Adult Summer Reading Club, the library hosted a Teen Tech Challenge was hosted to inspire teens with desires of becoming animators and designers. Beyond just technology as a draw, those with a creative mind or a passion for storytelling were also invited.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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