New AP Report Raises Alarming Questions about EPA’s Oversight of Oil and Gas Drillers

JOINT RELEASE: Jan 17, 2012

Alan Septoff, Earthworks,, 202-887-1872×105
Alex Formuzis, Environmental Working Group,, 202-667-6982

New AP Report Raises Alarming Questions about EPA’s Oversight of Oil and Gas Drillers

Joint statement by Bruce Baizel, Director of Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, and Dusty Horwitt, Senior Counsel for Environmental Working Group

A report yesterday (1/16) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew action against a natural gas company despite evidence that its drilling operations had contaminated drinking water in Texas raises alarming questions about the industry’s influence and the agency’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment.

According to an investigation by Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press, the EPA dropped legal action against Range Resources Corp. even though an independent study strongly suggested that Range’s drilling operations contaminated a nearby water well.  The study was conducted by scientist Geoffrey Thyne and commissioned by the EPA.

“If people can’t trust the Environmental Protection Agency to protect communities and the environment, who can they?” asked Earthworks’ Bruce Baizel. He continued, “Not the states, they leave uninspected more than 50 percent of oil and gas wells each year. So long as the public cannot rely on regulators to defend the public interest from drillers, public opposition to drilling will continue to grow.”

EWG’s Dusty Horwitt added, “From Texas to New York to California, regulators at the federal and state level have shown that they are all too willing to overlook serious drilling risks. What is even more troubling about this case is that EPA has allowed the drilling industry to criticize its scientific integrity when, all along, EPA officials had evidence of real drilling pollution. At the very least, these facts make it clear further investigation is needed, not only of Range’s activities, but also of EPA’s motivations.”


More Information:

Thyne study commissioned by EPA:

Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

Twitter: earthworksrocks
Facebook: earthworksaction

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. David says

    we need to know the facts around this quid pro quo the EPA made with Range and is this what has happened other enforcement actions?

  2. Anonymous says

    From what I know about the EPA, is that they follow and do what the ‘big dogs’ want done at the top of the administration. I understand that this administration wants to get the US to be oil independent–ie, they are in favor of what O&G wants and are kissing their butts at every turn in the road–also are helping to manipulate oil prices to be around $100/barrel. It’s nearly as bad a situation as during the Cheney era.