Wyoming reporters are neglecting an important story related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination around the town of Pavillion. So far they have failed to explore what the contamination means to the Wind River Indian Reservation tribes and their members.
Many reporters have noted that Pavillion is located near the reservation’s geographic center. But so far their stories have focused almost exclusively on possible sources of the contamination, the drinking water needs of Pavillion residents, and the EPA investigation. That is fine for The New York Times, whose readers may not care about ramifications of the contamination for tribes. But it is a serious oversight by the local press corps.
Even while reporters ignore the tribal angle, Congress is talking about it. Wyoming’s State Oil and Gas Supervisor Thomas E. Doll on Wednesday testified to a House subcommittee that “[g]round water on the Wind River Indian Reservation is (a) valuable resource for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members and others who live on the Reservation.”
Wyoming reporters should follow Doll’s lead and explore what hydraulic fracturing and water contamination may mean for tribal interests in drinking water, ground water, and minerals.