Skip to comments.UT study: Fracturing itself not connected to water pollution
Posted on 02/16/2012 1:31:32 PM PST by thackney
Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas has no direct connection to reports of groundwater contamination, based on evidence reviewed in a study done by the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.
The study, released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that many problems ascribed to hydraulic fracturing are actually related to processes common to all oil and gas drilling operations, such as casing failures or poor cement jobs.
The researchers also concluded that many reports of contamination can be traced to above-ground spills or other mishandling of wastewater produced from shale gas drilling, rather than from hydraulic fracturing per se, said Charles Chip Groat, an Energy Institute associate director who led the project.
These problems are not unique to hydraulic fracturing, he said.
Researchers examined evidence contained in reports of groundwater contamination attributed to hydraulic fracturing in three key shale plays: The Barnett Shale in North Texas; the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, New York and portions of Appalachia; and the Haynesville Shale in western Louisiana and northeast Texas.
Faculty members from across The University of Texas at Austin campus participated in the research, which the Energy Institute funded. The Environmental Defense Fund also assisted in developing the scope of work and methodology.
Groat said researchers will supplement the study released Thursday with an examination of reports relating to atmospheric emissions and seismic activity attributed to hydraulic fracturing, which have emerged as significant issues of concern in recent months.
The report also identified regulations related to shale gas development and evaluates individual states capacity to enforce existing regulations. In addition, university researchers analyzed public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing, as derived from popular media, scientific literature and online surveys.
Our goal was to provide policymakers a foundation for developing sensible regulations that ensure responsible shale gas development, Groat said. What weve tried to do is separate fact from fiction.
Natural gas found in water wells within some shale gas areas (e.g., Marcellus) can be traced to natural sources and probably was present before the onset of shale gas operations.
Although some states have been proactive in overseeing shale gas development, most regulations were written before the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing.
Media coverage of hydraulic fracturing is decidedly negative, and few news reports mention scientific research related to the practice.
Overall, surface spills of fracturing fluids pose greater risks to groundwater sources than from hydraulic fracturing itself.
The lack of baseline studies in areas of shale gas development makes it difficult to evaluate the long-term, cumulative effects and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.
“The study, released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that many problems ascribed to hydraulic fracturing are actually related to processes common to all oil and gas drilling operations, such as casing failures or poor cement jobs.”
Oh, okay, that makes it all better. It’s not from fracking per se, it’s from the drilling and workmanship involved with fracking.
My water is still forever unusable, but hey, drill away. What a bullsh**t comment.
It is hardly a worthless comment.
They are not claiming no mistakes have been made.
But if you want to add on regulations and addition inspection, why don’t we do that to the items that actually have been the source of a problem, instead of something else, even if currently demonized by the media.
If you want to protect the wells, why don’t we actually focus on the problems. The point is, you could outlaw hydraulic fracturing and still have the problems. Do you want to stop ALL drilling, of proceed with producing our resources in a safe manner?
Point well taken. But what there needs to be is some sort of fund or longterm liability from the drillers/oil companies, whatever, that is not bankruptable, or terminable due to a corporate dissolution that enables viable victims to be compensated when it happens. I am all for tapping our resources, but if even one person is affected so their property is no longer usable, they need to be properly compensated.
I believe that does exist by state. And many states charge a supplemental fee to provide funding to properly close up old wells from before the time of regulation. This is particularly an issue in Pennsylvania.
I know there is in Texas, but as with most, the payout is so nominal, time-consuming, and costly to otain. If and when the landowner loses the quality of their groundwater, the payout should be significant. Yes, there are a ton of issues related to this, but at the end of the day, the companies need to be held responsible in a significant way.
The real problem causing that, is most of the cases have been proved to be false claims. Not all of them, but far too many. There are many wells in Eastern Ohio, Western PA and others where there is natural gas in the water supply from before the time of drilling. Venting systems often used in this case. These we not caused by drilling recently, except in the case of Cabot in Dimock. There they didn't properly install the casing.
Some now have even stooped to poisoning their own well by dumping some of the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing. It is just insane what some will do thinking of a big payout.
Not all the oil companies are saints, a few cut way too many corners and a few sub-contractors (like waste water haulers) are even worse.
The companies do need to be held responsible. And the States have gotten far better at holding that assurance from the beginning. It wasn't that way decades ago.