From Energy in DEepth-Ohio:
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines the relative risks of shale development and hydraulic fracturing, using existing research as its guide. Unfortunately for opponents who have invested so much time stating otherwise, GAO finds no evidence of hydraulic fracturing fluids migrating from depth up into groundwater.
Granted, GAO wasn’t conducting an original investigative report, but rather aggregating research that’s been done to date. For that reason, the report did not make conclusions or recommendations on the topics it examined. Nonetheless, its findings are instructive in the broader discussion about hydraulic fracturing, specifically as it pertains to groundwater.
Here are a few excerpts worth highlighting:
GAO even listed studies in relation to the “HF causes water contamination” claim: one from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania (no impact, more on that study here), the infamous Duke University report (methane found in water wells [more on that here], but GAO rightly noted the researchers’ conclusion that there was “no evidence” of fracturing fluid in their samples), and findings from the Ground Water Protection Council (no contamination examples in 16,000 wells).
In other words: another governmental report, another nail in the coffin for the claim that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated groundwater.
Another topic GAO examined was the issue of seismicity. As we know the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Research Council have studied that topic and determined there is no link between major earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing. Thus, unsurprisingly, here’s what GAO found:
To recap, the Government Accountability Office has examined the studies and investigations conducted to date and determined that (1) the risk of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing fluids migrating from depth is not only extremely low, but state regulators and other experts have even said there’s no evidence of that ever happening; (2) the amount of rock separating shale formations from drinking water supplies is often thousands of feet, and the fractures created during hydraulic fracturing are not large enough to connect them; and (3) hydraulic fracturing is not causing major earthquakes.
Confirming the facts may not make great headlines, but the truth is always worth mentioning.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.