In a case Sen. Jim Inhofe described as an attempt by the Obama administration to “crucify” the fossil fuel industry, a federal judge has ordered a high-ranking Wyoming state official to be deposed in a fracking case.
It’s the case of a Wyoming family, Jeff and Rhonda Locker, that contends fracking by Encana Corporation operations near the central town of Pavillion had contaminated their drinking water. The EPA had originally agreed with the family then withdrew support and put the probe into the hands of Wyoming state officials. Wyoming officials concluded there was no link by the Canadian company’s fracking operations and the water contamination.
The Lockers sued, claiming state officials lied about their findings. This week, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson ruled the family’s attorneys will be allowed to depose Jerimiah Rieman, the former energy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead.
The ruling yesterday by U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson represents another procedural win for the Locker family in a case that once enthralled Washington, D.C., over the safety of hydraulic fracturing.
Encana contributed $1.5 million to Wyoming to help conduct its investigation.
Johnson wrote that the Lockers will be allowed to depose Jerimiah Rieman, the former energy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead (R) who now serves as the governor’s director of economic diversification strategy and initiatives. He coordinated efforts by Encana and the EPA to turn the case over to Wyoming.
For a few years, Pavillion, Wyoming and the fracking contamination claims were in the national spotlight and even closely monitored by aides to President Obama.