Quick Draw, McGraw
A tiff has broken out between the Department of Interior and the U.S. EPA over proposed gas drilling in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The energy industry would like to drill more than 39,000 new wells in the area, a plan enthusiastically backed by the Bush administration, especially in the wake of its defeat over oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But not everyone likes the look of the proposal: Earlier this month, EPA Acting Regional Administrator Jack McGraw gave the project’s Environmental Impact Statement the worst rating possible (“environmentally unsatisfactory”), saying that it ignored increases in air pollution and groundwater salinity that would result from drilling. In response, Interior Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, who once ran a consulting firm whose clients included oil and gas companies with an interest in the Powder River Basin, has told McGraw’s boss at the EPA that his rating cannot be allowed to stand, according to several sources. The DOI denies trying to silence the EPA.