Univ. of Texas Study: No Link Between Hydraulic Fracturing and Groundwater Contamination
Editor, Marcellus Drilling News
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 released Thursday by the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.
The 414-page study, titled “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development,” was released at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The research team examined evidence contained in reports of groundwater contamination attributed to hydraulic fracturing in three prominent 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.
The report also identifies 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,” said Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat, an Energy Institute associate director who led the project. “What we’ve tried to do is separate fact from fiction.”
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 for the study.
Other findings from the Energy Institute study include:
- 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.
- Media coverage of hydraulic fracturing is decidedly negative, and few news reports mention scientific research related to the practice.
To read the complete report, visit http://energy.utexas.edu/.
Video of Dr. Groat discussing the study: