A proposal to test water quality at oil and gas wells before and after drilling is making its way through the rulemaking process. The governor’s office and industry hope it will answer some of the questions surrounding groundwater contamination near oil and gas development, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, the rule may not actually be able to answer the question of who’s responsible, if contamination occurs, and that has some people questioning whether it’s valuable at all.
A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey finds that coal-bed natural gas production can affect water quality in nearby streams.
The study monitored water quality over a ten-year period in Wyoming and Montana, and found that in places like the Powder River, sodium levels increased. Other test sites showed little or no change in water quality.
Report author Melanie Clark says the changes occur because water that’s extracted during gas production sometimes flows into the streams and rivers.
But she says the additional sodium in the water isn’t particularly worrisome.