News / USA

Study: No Evidence Hydraulic Fracturing Pollutes Water

More science needed to assess long-term impact

Citizens march against fracking at the "Shale Gas Outrage Rally" in Philadelphia.
Citizens march against fracking at the "Shale Gas Outrage Rally" in Philadelphia.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

A new study finds no evidence that the controversial practice to extract natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing is contaminating ground water.

The report, "Separating Fact from Fiction in Shale Gas Development," published by the University of Texas Energy Institute, attempts to allay fears that fracking poses a threat to public health and the environment.

According to Charles Groat, associate director of the institute, fracking, which injects water and chemicals into a well at high pressure to shatter the gas-bearing rock deep underground, is not to blame for polluted wells.

“However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other parts of the process of shale gas development that could get things you don’t want in shallow ground water or surface water,” Groat says.  

The rush to develop new domestic sources of energy in the United States has led to a surge in drilling across the country in more than 30 states.

The northeastern state of Pennsylvania is issuing 2,500 permits a year to drill the Marcellus Shale, estimated to be the largest underground reservoir of natural gas in the United States.

While the University of Texas report finds no evidence that fracking contaminates groundwater, this rig located next to a dairy concerns local residents.
While the University of Texas report finds no evidence that fracking contaminates groundwater, this rig located next to a dairy concerns local residents.

While the stepped-up gas extraction promises to boost employment and stimulate the economy, activists who oppose the practice for environmental and health concerns, are working to ban it.

The oil and gas industry insists that fracking is both efficient and safe.

The analysis of major gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana finds that many reports of groundwater problems can be traced to surface chemical spills, leaky open air ponds or mishandling of wastewater and not fracking.

University of Texas environmental engineer Danny Reible believes natural sources of gas leaks must also be considered.

“There are certainly examples of natural gas wells that have casing leaks and have led to natural gas moving into drinking water wells," Reible says. "There are certainly examples of natural sources of gas both in the deep or subsurface as well as in the near subsurface that have also contaminated water supplies.”   

According to the data, most media reports about fracking have cast it in a negative light and contain little scientific research.

Groat says as drilling moves closer to where people live, science must play a greater role in evaluating the long-term, cumulative effects and risks associated with the process.

“Because if there is a phenomenon, what’s the cause and I think we really feel hobbled by the lack of baseline information. How much gas was there before?  How much was developed in prior times? Remember a lot of these areas, particularly the Marcellus, have really old shallow gas wells that have been abandoned for a long time.  What’s their situation?”

The report finds many problems associated with hydraulic fracturing are related to processes common to all gas and drilling operations, such as drill casing failures.  

The study concludes that there is no need for new regulations on gas development. It emphasizes, however, that states must aggressively enforce regulations already on the books to protect the environment, and that industry compliance will be necessary if fracking is to gain public acceptance.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid