This editorial appeared in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.
Water. Potable drinking water is absolutely necessary for those living in rural Laramie County. The eastern two thirds of Laramie County is designated as a water shortage area. Rural residents get their potable water from wells in the Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, which is widely recognized is decreasing year after year. At some point alternative sources of potable water will have to be found. The Sussex Formation is one of those alternative sources.
Yet here comes EOG Resources with an application to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) for an aquifer exemption to convert what was an application to drill for oil in the Niobrara formation into an injection well for disposal of toxic fracking waste water into the Sussex Formation. EOG proposes to inject up to 25,000 barrels (1,050,000 gallons) of toxic fracking waste water per day into the formation that is roughly 5,000 feet below the surface. To make matters worse, this injection well, known as Durham 106-07H, is about one mile from the Durham and Triple Crown subdivisions and is surrounded by a large number of private residential domestic water wells.
The consequences of a mishap during the drilling and operation of this well are too important to the residents of Durham and Triple Crown subdivisions to take the risk of contaminating their drinking water and destroying their way of life. Allowing this injection well, and perhaps any injection wells in Laramie County, is an issue that should concern all residents of Laramie County.
EOG does have alternatives. Fracking waste water can continue to be hauled to Colorado and disposed of in approved facilities. Or, it can be recycled and used repeatedly in fracking its other oil wells. It doesn’t need to be piped through the Ogallala Aquifer from which we get our drinking water into the Sussex Formation.
Because of the “total dissolved solid” rating of the Sussex Formation, the Cheyenne Area Landowner’s Coalition believes jurisdiction to approve or deny EOG’s application rests with Region 8 EPA in Denver and not the WOGCC, since Wyoming does not have “primacy” in this matter. The Coalition believes the WOGCC should issue a negative recommendation to Region 8 EPA on the Durham 106-07H application. Just because something is legally compliant with WOGCC rules doesn’t make it right.
Finally, Laramie County, Wyoming historically has been considered an area with low probability of earthquakes. Then again so is Greeley, Colorado. A quick internet search reveals that there have been at least nine earthquakes in and around Greeley within the last year, ranging in magnitude from 1.6 to 3.1. The prevailing opinion is that the presence of oil and injection wells in the area are the cause of these earthquakes.
The Cheyenne Area Landowner’s Coalition opposes the approval of injection wells in Laramie County, especially the Durham 106-07H injection well, which is located nearby the Durham and Triple Crown subdivisions. You can express your opposition to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Commission at 2211 King Blvd., Casper, Wyoming 82602. The deadline for comment is December 3rd.
Alexander Bowler, MPH
Alex is the President of the Cheyenne Area Landowner’s Coalition, Powder River’s affiliate