More studies, same result — Fracking ain’t likely to harm groundwater

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.

12 thoughts on “More studies, same result — Fracking ain’t likely to harm groundwater

  1. charlie says:

    I have not checked, but have you tracked the funding behind this research? What a surprise it would be to trace it to Koch Industries. I don’t know this, of course, but I do know that Koch is funding university science heavily, with the stipulation that the science taught at their expense be in line with their beliefs.

  2. Will B. Blood says:

    Last March the Nebraska Oil & Gas Commission held a public hearing to discuss a proposed permit for an out-of-state company that wants to inject toxic fracking wastewater into a well in Nebraska. The permit would allow the T-Rex Energy Corporation to use the well to dispose of up to 10,000 barrels (80 tanker trucks) of wastewater a day. During the “quasi-judicial” hearing citizens expressed a raft of concerns, the majority of them focusing on environmental issues regarding protecting the Ogallala Aquifer, a perceived lack of regulation and the impact of an increase in truck traffic, including safety concerns and damage to roads. During the hearing James Osborn, a farmer from Ainsworth, produced a container of water he said was from a fracking disposal and asked “would you drink this?” Apparently in response to one of the commission members having previously assured him this this sort of ‘water’ was safe to drink and they would do so themselves. The commission refused saying they “couldn’t comment.” BROOMFIELD, Colo., April 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — T-Rex Oil, Inc. (OTC: TRXO), an independent energy company engaged in the exploration, development, production and acquisition of oil and natural gas resources announced that it had received final approval from the Nebraska Oil & Gas Commission in Sydney, Nebraska on the application of T-Rex No. 1, LLC to drill and complete a water injection/disposal well. The Company is the manager and operator of the T-Rex No. 1 LLC.
    This approval will enable T-Rex No. 1 to proceed with its construction of its water disposal facility to serve not only its field, but allowing T-Rex to provide water disposal services to the surrounding oil fields in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.
    “Management is thrilled to receive final permit approval on the water disposal well,” stated Don Walford, CEO, “This approval opens a revenue opportunity for T-Rex that allows the Company to expand its revenues beyond its oil and gas production and moves T-Rex forward in its business plan.”
    Management estimates that the well will be capable of safely processing a maximum of 14,000 barrels per day, seven days a week, subject to a disposal rate to be set by the Nebraska Oil & Gas Commission. Current local disposal fees range $1.25 to $1.50 a barrel. {which in this instance could mean over $7½ million per year in revenue for T-Rex.}

  3. Haigha says:

    “EPA’s own scientists disagree with its ruling that fracking is safe” “Members of the EPA Science Advisory Board, which reviews major studies by the agency, says the main conclusion — that there’s no evidence fracking has led to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water” — requires clarification, David Dzombak, a Carnegie Mellon University environmental engineering professor leading the review, said in an e-mail.
    The panel that Dzombak leads will release its initial recommendations this month.
    “Major findings are ambiguous or are inconsistent with the observations/data presented in the body of the report,” the 31 scientists on the panel said in December, in a response to the study.
    The scientific panel’s recommendations aren’t binding, and the EPA is not required to change its findings to accommodate them. But they already are raising questions about the most comprehensive assessment yet of a practice that has driven a domestic oil and gas boom but spawned complaints about water contamination.”

  4. Cassandra says:

    “Exposure to chemicals released during fracking may harm fertility” University of Missouri-Columbia (8/25/16) “More than 15 million Americans live within a one-mile radius of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations. UOGs combine directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to release natural gas from underground rock. Scientific studies, while ongoing, are still inconclusive on the potential long-term effects fracturing has on human development. Today, researchers at the University of Missouri released a study that is the first of its kind to link exposure to chemicals released during hydraulic fracturing to adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes in mice. Scientists believe that exposure to these chemicals also could pose a threat to human development. “Researchers have previously found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) mimic or block hormones — the chemical messengers that regulate respiration, reproduction, metabolism, growth and other biological functions,” said Susan C. Nagel, Nagel, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health in the School of Medicine. “Evidence from this study indicates that developmental exposure to fracking and drilling chemicals may pose a threat to fertility in animals and potentially people. Negative outcomes were observed even in mice exposed to the lowest dose of chemicals, which was lower than the concentrations found in groundwater at some locations with past oil and gas wastewater spills.”

  5. New study says:

    Babies born near hydraulic fracturing sites are 25 percent more likely to have a low birth weight than those born only a few kilometers away, a new study of more than 1 million births in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region concludes. (12/13/17)
    The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, provides some of the most compelling data to date linking the process of hydraulic fracturing to negative health effects. It found that babies born within 3 kilometers of fracking sites were less healthy than those born farther away, and that babies born within 1 kilometer saw the largest effects.
    “We have pretty good evidence of a causal effect of health outcomes and fracking—not just a correlation,” said lead author Janet Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University.
    As a result of the the ‘Halliburton loophole’ the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate the injection of fracturing fluids under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Legislation also exempted the practice, used in 90 percent of U.S. natural gas wells (circa 2012), from the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

  6. Will B. says:

    “To round out a year of rollbacks, the Trump administration just repealed key regulations on fracking” (Wapo Dec 29, 2017) “…Last year, the Science Advisory Board sent a review to the Environmental Protection Agency faulting the agency for finding a lack of “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” determining that the EPA had not provided “quantitative analysis” to support that conclusion.”$File/EPA-SAB-16-005+Unsigned.pdf

  7. Update says:

    “Fracking chemical mix causes disturbing changes in breast tissue: Study” “The study is the first to examine the potential impact of chemicals used in unconventional oil and gas extraction—such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling—on mammary glands and suggests that low levels of the chemical cocktail commonly found near frack sites may spur abnormal development in women’s breast tissue. “The mammary gland is a hormone-sensitive organ that is responsive to multiple endocrine inputs during development,” the authors wrote in the study published today in the Endocrinology journal.”

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