Kudos to Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioners Ryan Lance and Tom Drean, who voted to slow down the mad rush "for an oil and gas company to inject produced water into a part of the Madison formation that, by all accounts, contains relatively clean water." This little- noticed story deserves more attention, given that these types of battles are playing out all over the country, and also given that fracking poses major environmental risks.
In fact, decisions to risk aquifer contamination for the short-term profits that come with fracking for oil land gas rest on fundamentally flawed assumptions. For one, they assume that the waters to be contaminated with fracking waste lie too deep to be cost-effectively accessed anyway. And even IF that assumption were correct, the question would still be: why the heck would you risk throwing away an aquifer - any aquifer - when we will need all the fresh water we can get in the future?
Given that we don't have the magical ability to produce more aquifers of fresh water, and given that we're producing more fracking pollution as time goes on, this looks like a poor calculation of risk at best, reckless at worst. In the case of Wyoming, the decision to risk its precious aquifers in the mad rush to frack is fundamentally foolish. Sadly, though, it's not a surprising decision in a state that has demonstrated its willingness to trash its resource base for the sake of dirty energy sector profits time and again. At least two officials showed wisdom in recognizing that "so much is at stake," in declaring that "we have to get it right and we are committed to doing so," and in voting accordingly.