Sep 22, 2014 - 5:15pm

Hydraulic Fracturing is Safe for Water, Scientists Find

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Pennsylvania.
A hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Pennsylvania.

Anti-energy activists, many who are in New York City this week, push the myth that hydraulic fracturing threatens our water. However, science continues to conclude that that just isn’t so.

The Department of Energy released a study that examined six natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania:

The research study, led by [the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s] Office of Research and Development, used natural and man-made tracers to look for evidence that fluid and gas in this area from the hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale had migrated at least 3,800 feet upward to a gas producing zone of Upper De-vonian/Lower Mississippian age shale, midway between the Marcellus Shale and the surface.

Let me help you visualize the depths of these wells. Most water wells are 200-1,000 feet underground, while wells that undergo hydraulic fracturing can be a mile or more beneath the surface.

Researchers found that neither natural gas nor hydraulic fracturing fluid traveled upward through the rock.

The same day that the DOE report was released, a study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences found that water contamination from natural gas wells was due to faulty well construction and not by hydraulic fracturing.

With these studies showing that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely, why are the Interior Department and EPA continuing their quests to add duplicative regulations on hydraulic fracturing?  

States have been regulating the practice for decades. As you can see in this video clip, Pennsylvania requires a desk-full of permits before a drill can touch the ground:

Fracking Permits Required

These studies support what current and former Obama administration officials have said about hydraulic fracturing’s safety. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has stated, “To my knowledge, I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater,” and former cabinet members Ken Salazar and Steven Chu have acknowledged that hydraulic fracturing is safe.

Simply put, hydraulic fracturing isn’t dangerous to water supplies. Science backs this up.

If there isn't excessive regulation, we have the ability to safely develop American's oil and natural gas abundance.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.