In October 2004, Weston Wilson, an environmental engineer and a 32-year veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency, filed a statement seeking whistle-blower protection from Congress. The 18-page statement blew the lid off an EPA study that had concluded that there was no evidence that hydraulic fracturing posed a threat to drinking water."
EPA produced a final report ... that I believe is scientifically unsound and contrary to the purposes of the law," Weston Wilson wrote to lawmakers. He went on to argue that the agency review of the safety of the drilling technique did not use established agency standards and relied on a peer review panel dominated by energy industry personnel.
His claims were first reported by the Los Angeles Times and came under review by the EPA's inspector general until the investigation was dropped and Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, a Clinton appointee, gave her resignation shortly thereafter.
October 8th, 2004
From a whistleblower and thirty year veteran of the EPA
Honorable Wayne Allard
7340 E. Caley, Suite 215
Englewood, Colorado 80111
Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell
6950 E. Belleview Avenue, Suite 200
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Honorable Diana DeGette
600 Grant Street, Suite 202
Denver, Colorado 80203
Dear Senators Allard and Campbell and Representative DeGette,
Recent events at EPA have caused me and several of my peers at EPA great concern. In June of this year, EPA produced a final report pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act that I believe is scientifically unsound and contrary to the purposes of the law. In this report, EPA was to have studied the environmental effects that might result from the injection of toxic fluids used to hydraulically fracture coal beds to produce natural gas. In Colorado, coal beds that produce natural gas occur within aquifers that are used for drinking water supplies. While EPA's report concludes this practice poses little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water, based on the available science and literature, EPA's conclusions are unsupportable. EPA has conducted limited research reaching the unsupported conclusion that this industry practice needs no further study at this time. EPA decisions were supported by a Peer Review Panel; however five of the seven members of this panel appear to have conflicts-of-interest and may benefit from EPA's decision not to conduct further investigation or impose regulatory conditions.
As these matters are complex, I enclose a technical analysis to further inform you and other members of Congress. I invoke the protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution and the Whistleblowers Protection Act should EPA retaliate against me as a result of speaking with you or other members of Congress or speaking to the press or the public regarding this matter. i am a resident of Denver in the first Congressional District of Colorado and I am employed by the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver. I have been employed by the EPA's Regional Office in Denver, since 1974. I am currently assigned to the Office of Ecosystems Protection and Remediation, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPAl Team, I am an environmental engineer assigned to assist EPA with its responsibilities under Section 309 of the Clean Air Act to independently review federal agency's compliance with NEPA. Currently I analyze the environmental impacts of coal mining, gold mining, and oil and gas development on public lands. I serve as the Legislative Advocate for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3607 representing professional and non-professional employees in EPA Region 8. I have also served as the President of Local 3607 in the past. EPA's failure to regulate the injection of fluids for hydraulic fracturing of coal bed methane reservoirs appears to be improper under the Safe Drinking Water Act and may result in danger to public health and safety. I respectfully request that you investigate this matter and respond as you and other members of Congress deem appropriate.
Via Electronic Mail: OW-Docket@epa.gov
Mr. Carey A. Johnston
Environmental Protection Agency
Re: Comments on Notice of Availability of Preliminary 2010 Effluent Guidelines
Program Plan, Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2008–0517
Dear Mr. Johnston:
On behalf of the 63 undersigned environmental organizations and landowners’
associations, Earthjustice respectfully submits these comments on the Notice of Availability of Preliminary 2010 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2009. 74 Fed. Reg. 68599 (Dec. 28, 2009). These comments specifically address EPA’s question “whether it should expand its detailed study of coalbed methane extraction to include all oil and gas exploration, stimulation, and extraction techniques that result in contamination of surface and groundwater, including hydraulic fracturing in all formations.” Id. at 68607-08. Based on our experience with oil and gas exploration, stimulation, and extraction, we strongly urge EPA to expand its study to include all techniques that may result in contamination of surface water or groundwater, including hydraulic fracturing in all formations. We believe, however, that expanding the scope of the study should not delay initiation of an Effluent Limitation Guideline specifically for coalbed methane discharge water.