But, the rest of it?
One of the stock charges used by those who campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling is that it endangers groundwater supplies. And yet the pile of studies largely refuting this fear-mongering keeps growing by the year.
In the past month alone, two major studies — one by Yale University and the other by Colorado State University — reached similar conclusions about two different centers of drilling, the first in northeastern Pennsylvania and the second in northeastern Colorado, mainly in Weld County.
The Yale-led study — the largest of its kind, according to a university press release — found “no evidence that trace contamination of organic compounds in drinking water wells near the Marcellus Shale” resulted from underground migration of the chemicals.
When the researchers did find “low levels of organic compounds” near a natural gas well, it was caused by “surface releases” — in other words, spills and accidents above ground that can be readily addressed and treated.
And the study found no dangerous level of any compound, based on federal or state exposure standards.
The CSU study also found “no evidence of water-based contaminants seeping into drinking water,” the university said. And while researchers detected non-toxic methane seepage in 2 percent of the wells, they concluded that it likely stemmed from “compromised well casings.”
“With regard to the really bad stuff — the bariums, chromiums and other soluble contaminants that people have been worried about getting into their water — [Professor Ken] Carlson’s team didn’t find any,” CSU added.
Carlson added that “well casing requirements and monitoring have tightened up significantly since the 2009 regulations,” so methane seepage is fated to become even rarer as the years pass.
I’d be the last to give drillers a pass for living up to safety and health standards in oil and gas fields. I’ve worked in the industry and nothing much more than a fast buck is in the mind of drilling companies. They need regulating and the regulations need enforcement. But, Luddite blather isn’t going to change real problems – while being caught in mythical fears puts folks who care in the same class as Tea Party bigots.
I’d rather see environment activists stick to real science and fight a principled, educated fight.