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.)