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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid