News Feature | July 3, 2017

Study: Fracking Not A Proven Threat To Drinking Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

fracking processing plant reg new.jpg

Fracking poses little threat to drinking water aquifers, according to a new study by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas.

“There is little chance of migration of hydrocarbons or brines from producing formations to drinking water aquifers, but near surface and surface spills or leaks may pose the dominant risk of hydraulic fracturing operations to water resources,” the study said.

“Increased complexity of surface fluid management, for example by treatment and use/reuse operations, may increase the potential for spills or leaks and therefore the risk to land and water resources,” it continued.

Christine Ehlig-Economides, a professor at the University of Houston who wrote the preface to the study, spoke to The Daily Signal, a conservative media outlet.

“In Texas and pretty much everywhere, hydraulic fracturing has not been proven to have an adverse impact on drinking water,” she said.

“We really do thrive on the availability of energy in the United States,” she added in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News. “Where there are things that could threaten the future for this kind of development, those are the things we really must address.”

The U.S. EPA, in a major report on fracking, came to different conclusions about the threat this energy industry practice poses to drinking water.

The EPA “has concluded that hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas extraction technique also known as fracking, has contaminated drinking water in some circumstances, according to the final version of a comprehensive study first issued in 2015,” The New York Times reported.

The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, noted that the Texas study did cite negative impacts of fracking:

In the most comprehensive analysis of the environmental and social impacts of drilling and hydraulic fracturing, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas found that the shale oil boom that delivered so much prosperity to Texas also has degraded natural resources, overwhelmed small communities and even boosted the frequency and severity of traffic collisions as workers and equipment rush to oil fields. Fracking, which uses a high-pressured concoction of water, sand and chemicals to free oil and gas from dense shale rock, is also spreading rapidly across Texas, the study noted. Some companies are even leasing mineral rights under Texas cities.

To read more about fracking’s impact on water quality visit Water Online’s Produced Water Treatment Solutions Center.

Image credit: "complexity," john mcsporran © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/