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By MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

can senators have asked the U.S. Envi- ronmental Protection Agency to subject a draft report that theorizes a link be- tween hydraulic fracturing and ground- water pollution in a Wyoming gas fi eld to a more rigorous level of scientifi c re- view than currently planned. The senators include James Inhofe

of Oklahoma and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Inhofe is ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Murkowski the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They sent the request involving

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Ten Republi-

balance, confl ict of interest and indepen- dence of the reviewers;

and public involvement,” Mylott said.

“The economy is important, but we cannot allow our water, air and health to be destroyed for a buck.”

– Deb Thomas

groundwater pollution in the tiny Wyo- ming community of Pavillion to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a letter Jan. 20.

Administrator Jackson will agree to our reasonable request. If she does not, the Pavillion study can have no credibility,” Inhofe said in a news release. While the EPA hasn’t classifi ed the

report as the senators have requested, the report will undergo the same level of

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“I hope that after receiving this letter,

a petroleum industry practice that uses pressurized water, sand and chemicals to fracture rock inside oil and gas wells. The draft EPA report released Dec. 8 the- orized that industry activity including fracking may have caused groundwater contamination in two test wells drilled in Pavillion. The draft report is set to undergo a 30-day peer review process following

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is

review they are seeking, EPA spokesman Rich Mylott said. “This includes ensuring the expertise,


a public comment period. The public comment period had been set to run through Jan. 27; the EPA last week ex- tended it through March 12. Also last week, the EPA opened the

process in which people can nominate experts to serve on the scientifi c peer re- view panel for the report. The 10 senators want the report clas-

sifi ed as a “highly infl uential scientifi c assessment” that would require more rigorous peer review standards. The pro- cess would need to be opened to public involvement, for example, and EPA em- ployees would not be allowed to serve on the peer review panel. Peer reviewers also would need to

be given access to key studies, data and models related to the draft report. A scientifi c report may be considered

“highly infl uential” if it could have a public or private sector impact of more than $500 million a year, according to a 2004 Offi ce of Management and Budget memo linked from the EPA website. A report that is “novel, controversial,

or precedent-setting, or has signifi cant interagency interest” also can require the more rigorous standard. The senators’ request seems reason- able and in line with the position of the

Thursday, January 26, 2012 ■ Page 17 Senators: Raise bar for Wyo. frack study review

Wyoming state government that ad- equate testing, data and review is needed before the peer review process, Gov. Matt Mead said Jan. 20. “In the meantime, I will continue to

work with the citizens outside of Pavil- lion trying to fi nd a safe and reliable wa- ter supply,” he said. The Powder River Basin Resource

Council, which has been representing Pavillion residents with polluted water, remains primarily concerned about their health and wellbeing, said organizer Deb Thomas. “The economy is important, but we cannot allow our water, air and health to be destroyed for a buck,” Thomas said. The major operator in the Pavillion

gas fi eld, Calgary-based Encana Corp., made a similar request for a “highly in- fl uential scientifi c assessment” in a letter to Jackson on Jan. 10. Encana has not yet received a response, according to com- pany spokesman Doug Hock. Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Jeff Ses-

sions of Alabama, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Rog- er Wicker of Mississippi also signed the letter.

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