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"It's already too late. The White House has already seen the report with conclusions," wrote Gary Strong, an engineer with the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, following a presentation by EPA deputy assistant regional administrator Martin Hestmark. The emails indicate that, at least in the minds of Wyoming officials, the federal agency was being pressed by the White House to release its report.
"Once local folks received data and it showed what it did they had the responsibility to take it to HQ and in fact it ended up with them in front of the White House. HQ and White House decided that now that data is released EPA must release conclusions quickly," wrote Tom Kropatsch, a natural resource analyst for the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who also took the notes at a Nov. 16 EPA-state meeting.
"The limiting of the hydraulic fracturing process will result in negative impacts to the oil and gas revenues to the state of Wyoming. A further outcome will be the questioning of the economic viability of all unconventional and tight oil and gas reservoirs in Wyoming, across the United States, and ultimately in the world," wrote Tom Doll, supervisor of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, in a long email that circulated among top state officials.
"Contaminants present at high concentrations in the deep monitoring wells are likely a result of hydraulic fracturing," read a "Key Findings" slide in an EPA PowerPoint shown at the meeting. Each slide was marked "Confidential-Do Not Disclose."
The public announcement more than a month later stated that the groundwater "contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing."
"When I talked to Lisa Jackson they were going to release the findings regardless. That wasn't even the question. The question was on the timing of it. We wanted a chance to see what are they basing this on," Mead told the AP.
"She said, 'Well, maybe we can hold off a couple weeks to give you guys this data.'"
The state could "get ahead of the curve" by assigning its own experts to review the data, suggested John Corra, the environmental quality director."Sort of an all out press," Corra wrote to Doll and others Nov. 7.
"Those of us living out here, we don't trust the state," he said.