Federal Study Blows Up Green Claim That Fracking Poisons Water

(Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Natural sources of methane are far more likely to contaminate groundwater than hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded study published Monday.

The study examined methane levels in groundwater supplies going back 25 years and determined that biologically generated methane and naturally occurring coal were the primary sources of methane in groundwater.

The research also disproves environmental claims that methane from fracking causes tap-water to flame.

“This latest study is another blow to the credibility of anti-fossil fuel activists have made water contamination a central claim in their case against fracking despite being consistently debunked by science,” Randy Hildreth, the Colorado Director of the pro-industry group Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “None of the cases of contamination researchers looked at in Colorado’s DJ Basin were attributed to wells using hydraulic fracturing and modern horizontal drilling techniques under today’s regulations.”

The study was entirely funded by the National Science Foundation’s AirWaterGas Sustainability Research Network at the University of Colorado and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study received no money from the energy industry.

The study is just the latest to prove fracking does not contaminate drinking water. Other studies from regulatory bodiesacademics,  the U.S. Geological Survey and even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found either no contamination or such low levels of methane that any sort of adverse impact would be impossible.

Even studies that were financially supported by environmentalists found fracking has no effect on water quality.

“This new study is no surprise for me. This study tells everybody that there’s no link between fracking and contamination.” Dan Kish, vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, told TheDCNF. “We keep getting report after report after report showing that fracking doesn’t cause water contamination.”

Environmentalists responded to previous studies that did not find groundwater contamination with total denial, saying “millions of Americans know that fracking contaminates groundwater and for the EPA to report any differently only proves that the greatest contamination from the industry comes from its influence and ownership of our government.” Major environmental groups such as The Sierra Club still claim “fracking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

“This study shows that there’s been no change in contamination since fracking started, but environmentalists aren’t buying it. You present fact after fact after fact, yet they refuse to believe the science in this area,” Kish continued. “Environmentalists want to believe that fracking contaminates groundwater because it makes them feel self-righteous. But the facts don’t lie.”

Fracking has caused an economic boom in Colorado. The oil and gas industry added $29.6 billion to Colorado’s economy in 2012, or about 10 percent of all annual economic activity in the state. The industries also supported 111,500 jobs, allowing the state to recover from the Great Recession faster than its neighbors. It also helped America pass Russia to become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. Oil production in 2014 was 80 percent higher than production in 2008 largely due to fracking.

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