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TribBlog: The Drilling Grilling

More than 40 people crammed into the Texas Railroad Commission’s hearing today on what caused two water wells in Parker County to become contaminated by natural gas. Missing: the Environmental Protection Agency.

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More than 40 people crammed into the Texas Railroad Commission’s hearing today on Range Resources and two water wells in Parker County contaminated by natural gas.

Attorneys and experts from the company were there to testify that the contamination of the wells was not caused by Range Resources' natural gas wells drilled into the Barnett Shale.

The only major player missing was the Environmental Protection Agency, which is not attending the hearing. The EPA has accused Range of contaminating the two wells, charges that Range Resources has strongly denied. Last month the EPA ordered Range to provide remedies for the affected homeowners, and the agency announced on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint in a federal district court to force Range to comply fully with the order. The EPA asked the court to impose a civil penalty of up to $16,500 per day of violation.

David Pool, the lead attorney for Range Resources, said he expected to finish the company's presentation before the Railroad Commission by tomorrow.

“We are trying to be transparent in this situation, and we’d like the EPA to be as well,” Pool said.

Pool went on to say that his team would be filing an appeal in the 5th Circuit of Appeals by this Thursday or Friday in response to the EPA’s complaint. 

Mike Middlebrook, a Range Resources vice president, was the first witness. He was followed by two technical experts. One of those experts, Norm Warpinski, testified that in his opinion the fracturing caused by Range’s drilling “couldn’t possibly be the reason for contamination of the Lipsky or any other wells.”

Before the hearing broke for lunch, a Range attorney asked the Railroad Commission's examiners to keep the record open until the EPA could be deposed. 

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Energy Environment State government 82nd Legislative Session State agencies Texas Legislature Texas Railroad Commission