Six Republican senators, including Texas' John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, today sent an 11-page letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. criticizing his recent report supporting the agency's decision to issue an emergency order against Fort Worth-based Range Resources in 2010. The case concerned Parker County water wells contaminated with methane and led to a high-profile legal battle before the EPA suddenly withdrew the order in 2012. Elkins issued his report on Christmas Eve, saying the agency was justified in bringing its enforcement action and also in withdrawing it.
That didn't sit well with the six senators who signed the letter to Elkins. They raised 21 issues, complaining the EPA ignored evidence from its own staff and consultants that didn't support the emergency order, overstated the threat of explosion and "usurped" the Texas Railroad Commission's role regulating the industry in the state. Their letter follows pleas from environmental groups that the EPA reopen the Parker County case as well as investigations into water contamination in Pennsylvania and Colorado, which were also dropped. At the same time, several homeowners in the Parker County development of Silverado, including original complainant Steve Lipsky, have asked the Railroad Commission to reinvestigate their water wells, which they say are becoming increasingly contaminated. The Railroad Commission last year took water samples from several of the homeowners and has said it could release the results of its investigation this month or next.
-- Jim Fuquay