University study: Fracking hasn’t contaminated groundwater

posted at 9:15 am on February 18, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Stand by for the backlash from environmentalist groups. One of the mainstays in the green movement and their efforts to derail domestic energy production is the widely touted liberal doctrine that fracking is bad. (For those just joining our program, fracking is the common nickname associated with hydraulic fracturing.) Various political, agenda driven activists like Josh Fox have made a fine living blaming fracking for everything from exploding sinks to earthquakes. (No… seriously.)

In the past, when a series of studies have shown the majority of these claims to be nonsense, activists responded by claiming that the institutions performing the studies must have deep, secret ties to the energy industry. Therefore the results must be suspect. But now a new study is out, and this one comes from academia.

The hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to develop natural gas has no direct connection to groundwater contamination, according to a study released Feb. 16 by the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study reported that many problems blamed on hydraulic fracturing are related to processes common to all oil and gas drilling operations, such as casing failures or poor cement jobs.

University researchers also concluded that many reports of contamination can be traced to above-ground spills or other mishandling of wastewater produced from shale gas drilling, rather than from hydraulic fracturing, Charles “Chip” Groat, an Energy Institute associate director, said in a statement.

“These problems are not unique to hydraulic fracturing,” he said.

The vast majority of fracking activity takes place hundreds, if not thousands of feet below the aquifer. Will you find natural gas and related hydrocarbons in the area when you initially drill a hole in the ground in places like Pennsylvania’s shale play? Yes, you will. You will also find those same compounds present when you drill a new water well. The land is full of hydrocarbons. That’s why we drill there.

Of course, you can expect this study to fall on deaf ears among the usual suspects, just as previous ones have. Possibly the only thing that’s going to attract the attention of the key players is the tens of thousands of jobs being added in Pennsylvania and the fact that state with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation right now is North Dakota, at 3.3%. I wonder how they managed that? (Hint: they’re not picking mangoes.)

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according to a study released Feb. 16 by the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

Yeah, everybody knows Austin is a hotbed of paleo-cons!
cartooner on February 18, 2012 at 9:26 AM
Austin is in Texas, George W. Bush is from Texas, George W. Bush has friends in the oil industry……there is our link!
tommer74 on February 18, 2012 at 9:28 AM
LOL Austin is a lot like Berkeley with a twang. It’s a surprise they published this study.
Fallon on February 18, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Even leftist engineers might let the evidence trump their personal ideology, but UT is definitely not a hotbed of bitter right-wing religion-clingers (although the gun-toting part used to be true even there).

AesopFan on February 18, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Whoops – cut & paste error – sorry for the double-post.

In re the spelling debate, jargon generally gets a pass for violating phonetics, so “fracing” would be acceptable to the group that actually invented and/or uses the term; although “fraccing” could preserve the pronunciation as well as “fracking” does, it looks odd in English.

Not that oddity is unusual for English spelling.

The Chaos
Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.

I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;

(extensive snip; it’s a long poem!)

Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is: give it up!

AesopFan on February 18, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Ah, yes, Austin. Around here we call it “Berkeley on the Brazos”, and preserve it so our kids can observe the Liberal in it’s native habitat. Makes identifying them outside the preserve easier….

SDN on February 19, 2012 at 8:22 AM

we call it “Berkeley on the Brazos”

Which is odd.

Austin is on the Colorado.

Baylor is on the Brazos (or close enough).


Ragspierre on February 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

The argument that it’s other drilling related activities that are causing the problem and that fracking doesn’t? That’s pretty weak tea.

Yer honor my client didn’t shoot that guy, the gun shot him.

MarkT on February 19, 2012 at 12:30 PM

The argument that it’s other drilling related activities that are causing the problem and that fracking doesn’t?

No, dummy. The argument is that there is no CAUSE >>> EFFECT relationship to what “problems” exist.

Ragspierre on February 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM