Alas, a new study in PNAS shows that, indeed, fracking can increase the amount of methane in your drinking water. Scientifically dubious activist websites, such as Desmogblog, are already touting the study as a “damning” indictment against fracking. Is it?
The authors sampled well water and plotted the amount of methane in the water (y-axis) as a function of the distance in kilometers (x-axis) from a gas well. (See chart.) As shown, the closer a well is to a fracking site, the more likely it is to have a higher methane concentration.
Should this worry us? Not really. Most wells had methane levels that were far below the “action level” recommended by the US Department of the Interior. And, as just mentioned, methane naturally contaminates groundwater all the time.
Besides, there’s another big point to consider, and almost nobody ever does: What level of methane contamination is actually dangerous?