Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Initial Statement on EWG Report and Today's NYT Article

Both the Environmental Working Group and today's NYT published information today about a 1987 EPA report of a water well contaminated by fracking fluids in West Virginia. See

Apparently this report concluded fracking fluids had returned from depth to a water well and has been hiding in plain sight, concealed by the passing of 24 years. The case is also a reminder that fracking is not new and has been used in America for decades and decades.

Scrutiny of this report and case is a good thing. I am glad to see a full discussion about it, though I am not able to make any judgments at this point about the case at the heart of today's reports.

I can say that I directed testing for frack fluids and chemicals in water wells when I served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Testing always proved no contamination from frack fluids, but did confirm in some cases that gas drilling had contaminated with methane some water wells.

Duke University's study of water wells in Pennsylvania also found no contamination of water wells with fracking fluids or chemicals, but it too confirmed some cases of methane contamination of water wells as result of drilling.

I have also been fully supportive of the Congressionally-mandated EPA study of fracking. The study is moving ahead and will include 3 locations in Pennsylvania. That study will be an important contribution.

1 comment:

  1. It's odd to me that the groups studying carbon sequestration, NETL, CMU et al., are working to quantify the duration of sequestration and associated uncertainty of computer model estimations. If the DOE is so concerned with harmful emissions captured and sequestered at great depths finding its way back into the atmosphere, then why can't they, EPA or the industry perform similar studies on high pressure stimulations in the oil and gas industry?

    Unless there is publicly available analyses, then the notion that fluids employed in hydrofracturing can't migrate from great depths to affect groundwater is based on anecdote. Without continued scientific study, the process will always be suspect.