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Hail Shale
EPA Exonerates Fracking

Greens loathe fracking. To hear them tell it, the innovative drilling technique is befouling our nation’s water while heating up our planet, but a new EPA report tells a very different story, concluding that hydraulic fracturing hasn’t been linked with any “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.” The WSJ reports:

The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry and its supporters: that fracking can be carried out safely and doesn’t need to pose a threat to water.

While there have been some cases involving spills and leaking wells, the spread of fracking didn’t cause extensive damage to groundwater resources, the EPA found. The four-year study noted that there were certain “potential vulnerabilities” to water supplies that needed to be addressed, including ensuring wells are well-built and wastewater is disposed of properly.

Environmentalist fears over groundwater contamination stem from the fact that the vertical portion of shale wells frequently pass through local water tables on their way to much lower depths, where they’ll extend horizontally into shale rock. These vertical well bores are encased in cement to prevent any of the fracking fluid—injected at high pressure to break up shale rock to access oil and gas—or the resultant hydrocarbons then extracted from leaking into aquifers, and, if done right, that minimizes the risk. Firms then have to store wastewater from fracking, but again, diligence here can prevent leaks into local water supplies.

All of this is to say that hydraulic fracturing isn’t predisposed to contaminating water sources. Negligence abounds in every industry, and local authorities need to have clear regulations in place to ensure companies are crossing their t’s and cementing their wells properly, but the risk of spills can be managed, and despite green claims doesn’t pose an existential threat to the industry.

Now that its biggest allegation against fracking has been debunked, will the environmental movement move to embrace shale? They ought to—fracking has unleashed a flood of natural gas here in the U.S., displacing much-dirtier coal. But these are greens we’re talking about, and as much as they like to tout “settled science” when it suits their agenda, they’ve proven to be quick to eschew empirical evidence when it doesn’t fit into their worldview. For those of us living in the real world, this new report can only be seen as good news. The drilling technique that’s kicked off an American energy renaissance isn’t the environmental boogeyman some made it out to be.

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  • Fat_Man

    “will the environmental movement move to embrace shale”

    No. They hate seeing the Goddess Gaia being stuck with sharp instruments. They think it hurts her.

  • f1b0nacc1

    These are the same idiots (the greenies) who are still trying to demonize GMOs….they will ignore this…
    Look, as long as someone is making money doing it, it MUST be wrong…..just ask our resident loons here….

  • Ali Zabouti

    The scientific evidence would be a lot more convincing if fracking companies would disclose the chemicals they use or allow chemical tagging, but these companies have passed laws making it a felony (here in NC, for example) to disclose such information. Why?

    I know you and a previous commenter aren’t worried by “innovative” technologies such as fracking and GMOs. But you sure don’t seem to have any problem with laws against disclosure or labeling so that the public can know what we’re buying or being forced to drink.

    BTW, this particular idiot (me) is much less worried by GMOs than fracking. Just setting the record straight.

    • CaliforniaStark

      Why you worry more about something injected 6,000 to 10,000 feet into the ground more than something you directly put in your mouth and swallow puzzles me.

    • Clayton Holbrook

      The lack of chemical disclosure is an old argument. Here’s a widely used website that tells you all about it.

      • Ali Zabouti

        That is a useful website, Clayton. But if it’s such an old argument, how do you explain NC’s new law making disclosure of this information a felony ( What are they hiding if there’s nothing to hide? (This is a sincere question BTW, not rhetoric.)

        • CaliforniaStark

          Coca Cola protects from disclosure their “secret formula” for coke. What do they have to hide? Perhaps the better question is why Coca Cola, and other companies, do not want to reveal their trade secrets. It has to do with retaining a perceived competitive advantage. North Carolina is not the only state that makes the infringement or theft of a trade secret a crime; in California it is also a felony.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Thanks for proving my point.
      The objects to labeling laws are not about disclosure (anyone reading my comments here or elsewhere know that I am a great believer in transparency), but rather about the logistical impossibilities that such labeling would impose. In fact many in the anti-GMO movement have openly admitted that this is the intention…i.e. to make GMOs impractical by adding extra regulatory burdens to their use. Typical greenie lawfare…
      As for the various fracking solvents in use, I don’t object to voluntary disclosure, but many of these solvents are trade secrets, or other forms of intellectual property that disclosure would act to devalue. I would prefer disclosure as well, but the reasons that it is not forthcoming is hardly evidence of any sort of wicked conspiracy. When chemicals are being injected into the ground over a mile BELOW the water table, we really aren’t discussing a serious danger. Now, if you want to discuss proper maintenance of the wells and other valid concerns….

  • Corlyss

    Means nothing for the political war. Anti-crackers won’t believe it; pros will remain ineffective.

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