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    EPA sides with Northern Arapaho officials, blocks Aethon bid to pump oilfield wastewater into Madison aquifer

    (Ethete, WY) – The Northern Arapaho Business Council is pleased the U.S. EPA has decided against Aethon Energy, which sought to utilize the Madison aquifer to dispose of wastewater from the Dallas-based oil and gas company’s Moneta Divide oilfield.

    Officials with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes objected to polluting the aquifer, a potential future water source for residents of the Wind River Reservation. The EPA concurred with Tribal officials and cited the Safe Drinking Water Act in blocking Aethon’s plan.

    “Water is holy – without it, there is no life,” said Councilwoman Kim Harjo of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. “We must protect our water not only for ourselves as Arapaho people, but also for generations to come. Outside companies that do not make Wyoming their home must not be allowed to dictate how we live or poison our natural resources. I am grateful to the Northern Arapaho Natural Resources Office and all interested parties who spoke up and helped us defend the Madison aquifer.”

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    Aethon is in the process of expanding its Moneta Divide oilfield by an estimated 4,500 wells. Each year, it is projected the wells will produce millions of gallons of polluted wastewater known as brine, a portion of which the company sought to dispose of by pumping it 15,000 feet deep into the Madison aquifer. Aethon argued, and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2020 agreed, the aquifer is too deep and remote to be utilized as a source for drinking water.

    But, the EPA disagreed – and cited regional warming trends that may one day lead Tribal and other local populations to tap the aquifer.

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