New study: fracking does not contaminate drinking water

Hydraulic fracturing also known as "fracking"
Hydraulic fracturing also known as “fracking”

The study comes out of Yale University, and was published in PNAS. Pretty good school, pretty good peer-reviewed journal.

Here’s the introduction:

Organic compounds found in drinking water aquifers above the Marcellus Shale and other shale plays could reflect natural geologic transport processes or contamination from anthropogenic activities, including enhanced natural gas production. Using analyses of organic compounds coupled with inorganic geochemical fingerprinting, estimates of groundwater residence time, and geospatial analyses of shale gas wells and disclosed safety violations, we determined that the dominant source of organic compounds to shallow aquifers was consistent with surface spills of disclosed chemical additives. There was no evidence of association with deeper brines or long-range migration of these compounds to the shallow aquifers. Encouragingly, drinking water sources affected by disclosed surface spills could be targeted for treatment and monitoring to protect public health.

So, the fracking – which happens deep below the earth – didn’t introduce any new chemical additives into the water. Basically, fracking involves fracturing rocks using high pressure water, sand and chemicals. The question is whether chemicals and/or the fracking fluid contaminate the water supply used by humans. The answer, according to this study, is no. The distance between the water supply and the shale is simple far, far, far too great for the cracks to traverse. The minor contamination from surface spills is easy to detect and cleanup. This is not what you see on far left web sites and Hollywood movies, but it is what you see in studies down by Yale University scientists published in prestigious peer-reviewed science journals.

Anyway, this study is consistent with a report from the far-left radically environmentalist Environmental Protection Agency.

This is reported in the radically leftist National Public Radio, of all places.


The Environmental Protection Agency says it finds no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study while environmental groups criticize it.

“We found the hydraulic fracturing activities in the United States are carried out in a way that has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” says Tom Burke, Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “In fact, the number of documented impacts to drinking water resources is relatively low when compared to the number of fractured wells,” he adds.

The EPA’s draft assessment was conducted at the request of Congress. “It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date,” says Burke, “including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”

Fracking has allowed drillers to tap oil and natural gas reserves once thought off-limits deep underground. That has led to drilling booms across the country and boosted the country’s oil and natural gas production significantly. But environmental groups have long argued fracking comes with a cost to the environment, especially to water. Those groups have called for stronger regulations and even bans on fracking altogether.

[…]The American Petroleum Institute says the conclusions echo what the oil industry has argued all along. “Hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices,” says Erik Milito, API upstream group director.

Acknowledging the potential vulnerabilities outlined in the EPA report, Milito says, “Continuous safety improvements have been an ongoing part of hydraulic fracturing for 65 years.”

Indeed. This is not the first time that the radically leftist EPA has cleared the fracking industry, either. I blogged about the last one for Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Here’s an excerpt from the EPA press release that exonerates fracking:

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has completed its sampling of private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa. Data previously supplied to the agency by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells, and following requests by residents EPA took steps to sample water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants. Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.

[…]Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap. EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.

So, if you want to worry about fracking, it will have to be because of something other than facts. We have facts piled on facts piled on facts, and they all say that fracking is a great way for us to get cheap, clean energy that doesn’t pollute the environment or contaminate our water supply. You have to be anti-science to doubt this data. Democrats do oppose fracking. They don’t know about the science, they just oppose it because that’s what’s in the popular culture, in Hollywood movies, etc. We have to fight them with the science. Democrats are the anti-science party, so don’t expect this to alter their rhetoric.

One thought on “New study: fracking does not contaminate drinking water”

  1. Of course this is obvious to anyone with critical thinking skills. If fracking contaminated ground water, then it would have already been contaminated by the hydrocarbons they were trying to recover. So the counter argument is that fracking introduces new paths to ground water, but this is not so. Fracking would be inefficient and would not make a profit if they were not able to maintain pressure and were pushing fracking fluids or they oil they are seeking out into the surrounding rock at levels it would take to contaminate ground water to detectable levels.

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