A federal judge in Austin said Tuesday that investigations by the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into methane contamination of residential water wells in Parker County are "of extreme significance" and have national implications.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel made the comments in a court hearing in which he granted lawyers for Fort Worth-based Range Resources the right to take the deposition of an EPA official regarding the contamination investigation.
Yeakel said the deposition should be taken of whichever EPA official is most knowledgeable about it. The deposition is to be taken on Tuesday at the EPA's regional office in Dallas.
The EPA filed a Dec. 7 emergency order against Range, contending that two of its gas wells were the apparent cause of the contamination, a claim Range denies.
"I think we're dealing with parallel proceedings here (of the EPA and Railroad Commission) that are of extreme significance and will be significant around the country, based on the amount of publicity that (natural) gas and groundwater is getting in virtually every publication and every media outlet that there is," Yeakel said, adding that "this has become a hot-button issue in the country."
His comments were in a 77-page hearing transcript reviewed today by the Star-Telegram.
--Jack Z. Smith