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EPA official: Dialogue needed between Mossville, industries

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 9:25 AM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

He has only been on the job since September 2012, but EPA Region 6 Administrator Ron Curry is familiar with Mossville.

Curry wants residents in the Calcasieu Parish hamlet to meet with industrial representatives in order to solve long standing environmental complaints there.

“I plan to visit Mossville myself and try to see if problems can be worked on,” he said. “We will be in Mossville sometime soon.”

Curry was appointed by President Barak Obama to oversee the Dallas-based District 6 Office that oversees Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Prior to taking over, he worked as the head of New Mexico’s Environmental Department under former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration and as a public affairs specialist in the private sector. Curry also owned a business for 10 years.

He visited Lake Charles on Tuesday and spoke at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s 2013 annual meeting at L’Auberge Casino Resort.

Curry stressed that environmental issues can only be solved when communities and industry have dialogue.

“I’d like to see more communication. Folks have to talk to each other to try and find solutions,” he said.

He said he understands the long and contentious history between local environmental advocates and industry representatives.

Curry believes the needs of both sides can be balanced for the betterment of the environment and economy.

EPA officials are watching developments in the multi-billion industrial corridor situated along the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coastlines. A large percentage of growth is due to the availability of natural gas that is used as feedstock in the petrochemical industry and as a power source.

“We want to try and stay ahead of the curve and be aware of the technology. It is important that we realize during this growth the mistakes and concerns of the past and not repeat them,” Curry said.

During a question-and-answer session with Louisiana oil and gas representatives, Curry responded to concerns about the federal government’s position on hydraulic fracturing.

A large portion of the mining industry approves of the technology. Hydraulic fracturing is leading miners to lower depths under the earth and vast oil and gas reservoirs.

During the process, millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rock, breaking free pockets of oil and gas.

Many environmental activists claim the procedure could lead to contaminated drinking water.

“At the EPA, we will continue on a daily basis to understand the ins and outs of fracking. We want to know the effects and benefits,” Curry said. “But there are no plans from EPA to do anything but try to understand and make sure the procedure is safe.”

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