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EPA officials ignored engineer's theory in Range contamination case

A former Texas state oil and gas regulator outlined in 2011 how two Range Resources Corp. wells outside Fort Worth could have leaked natural gas into the water supply of nearby homes. Thomas "Buddy" Richter, hired by attorneys for one of the homeowners, said that state inspectors had found a leak and that Range failed to seal its well bore with cement deeply enough to protect the neighbors' underground water supplies. Richter, a petroleum engineer, said other companies drilling shale in the area sealed their wells significantly deeper. The Texas Railroad Commission, where Richter once worked, ruled that Range was not at fault. But Richter said the elected commissioners appeared to have fast-tracked the Range case to take a swipe at U.S. EPA. "I can recognize when there's political. And yes, there was political," Richter said in a deposition. "I think they were trying to make a statement: 'EPA go home.'"

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