The bankruptcy of Patriot Coal, a Peabody Energy spinoff, put pension benefits at risk for 12,000 miners and sparked a series of lawsuits.
Reprinted with permission from ProPublica. Not for republication by Wyoming media.
As the country awaits results from a nationwide safety study on the natural gas drilling process of fracking, a separate government investigation into contamination in a place where residents …
Wyoming's rules are the strongest in place, although it's unclear how thoroughly they are being enforced. The rules require public disclosure of all the chemicals except for trade secrets, which drillers must submit for regulators' eyes only. The only thing the rule lacks, critics say, is a requirement to report the concentration of the individual chemicals. Three reports that were selected at random and reviewed by ProPublica appeared to leave out some of the chemicals used. Tom Doll, the state's oil and gas supervisor, said his agency has two staff members reviewing each of the reports.
Meeks used to have abundant water on his small alfalfa ranch, a 40-acre plot speckled with apple and plum trees northeast of the Wind River Mountains and about five miles outside the town of Pavillion. For 35 years he drew it clear and sweet from a well just steps from the front door of the plain, eight-room ranch house that he owns with his wife, Donna. Neighbors would stop off the rural dirt road on their way to or from work in the gas fields to fill plastic jugs; the water was better than at their own homes. But in the spring of 2005, Meeks' water had turned fetid. His tap ran cloudy, and the water shimmered with rainbow swirls across a filmy top. The scent was sharp, like gasoline. And after 20 minutes — scarcely longer than you'd need to fill a bathtub — the pipes shuttered and popped and ran dry.
After three members of Congress reported this week that drilling companies have been injecting large amounts of diesel fuel underground to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells, the industry is fighting back — not by denying the accusation, but by arguing that the EPA never fully regulated the potentially environmentally dangerous practice in the first place.