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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid