GAO report finds no evidence that fracing contaminates groundwater!
by Ed Ireland, Ph.D
Founder and Executive Director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council in Fort Worth, Texas
Posted on: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 – 14:12
If you are a steadfast anti-fracker, this report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will do little to sway your opinion. Another bogus report from industry backed insiders. If you are aware of the facts, this report will only substantiate what has been known for many years.
A report was released from the GAO pertaining to hydraulic fracturing. The report, entitled “Information on Shale Resources, Development, and Environmental and Public Health Risks,” used existing research to assess the risks associated with shale development and hydraulic fracturing.
It is well known that many people oppose hydraulic fracturing, believing it to be responsible for contaminating groundwater; however, like many documents that have preceded it, the GAO’s report finds no evidence to back allegations that hydraulic fracturing fluids in shale formations migrate into the groundwater. The GAO report is another in a long list of documentation supporting the safety of hydraulic fracturing relating to our groundwater.
It should be noted that the GAO did not conduct any original research for this report. Instead, they chose to do an extensive review of existing literature as well as interviews with officials from eight state regulatory agencies. Due to this, the report specifies that it will not make conclusions or recommendations pertaining to the information found. Without recommendations from the GAO, the report’s findings still provide irrefutable defense that hydraulic fracturing isn’t responsible for contaminating groundwater.
In response to the GAO report, Energy In Depth published a review entitled “GAO report confirms facts about HF and Groundwater,” in which they highlight these areas of interest from the GAO report:
- “The risk of contamination from improper casing and cementing is not unique to the development of shale formations.” (GAO, p. 45)
- “Fractures created during the hydraulic fracturing process are generally unable to span the distance between the targeted shale formation and freshwater bearing zones.” (GAO, p. 46)
- “When a fracture grows, it conforms to a general direction set by the stresses in the rock, following what is called fracture direction or orientation. The fractures are most commonly vertical and may extend laterally several hundred feet away from the well, usually growing upward until they intersect with a rock of different structure, texture, or strength. These are referred to as seals or barriers and stop the fracture’s upward or downward growth.” (GAO, p. 47)
“In addition, regulatory officials we met with from eight states—Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas—told us that, based on state investigations, the hydraulic fracturing process has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination within their states.” (GAO, p. 49)
Energy In Depth goes on to mention three different studies from the GAO report that found no connection between hydraulic fracturing causing water contamination: “One from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania (no impact) … the infamous Duke University report (methane found in water wells … 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).”
Energy In Depth concludes that the GAO report is “another nail in the coffin for the claim that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated groundwater.”