In December 2009, one Steven Lipsky noticed a problem with his water well at his new home just west of Dallas, Texas. He began to suspect that the source was a nearby natural gas well that Range Resources had built and “fracked” earlier that year to exploit a part of the massive Barnet Shale a mile underground.
The technique of hydraulic fracturing, which permits extraction of oil and gas from impermeable rock such as hard shale, has vastly increased the country’s recoverable reserves of energy. In the last year, the U.S. has doubled its estimate of the recoverable natural gas in the U.S., and a single new find, the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and New York, is thought to contain more total energy than all of Saudi Arabia.
Naturally, the prospect of a boom in fossil fuel production has driven environmentalists crazy. Environmental activists soon made contact with Mr. Lipsky, told him to watch a largely fraudulent documentary called Gasland, and encouraged him to bring EPA into the action quickly. In later summer 2010, he duly filed a complaint with both federal and state regulators.
EPA testing soon showed that there were traces of methane in his drinking water, and that, like the methane deep in the Barnet Shale, it was “thermogenic” rather than “biogenic.” All that proved was that both samples had come from deep underground, which was obvious anyway. But that was all the EPA needed to slap Range Resources with an endangerment finding and remediation order. “We know they’ve polluted the well,” claimed EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz in a television interview at the time. “We know they’re getting natural gas in there.”
In fact, Armendariz didn’t know anything. Read the incredible story of EPAs baseless persecution of Range Resources, over at the Weekly Standard.
– Mario Loyola