The U.S. Geological Survey released a comprehensive fracking study today showing 127 shallow domestic wells in the Fayetteville Shale natural gas production area of Arkansas caused no groundwater contamination.
Chloride concentrations were not higher in the 2011 samples taken in Van Buren and Faulkner counties than in samples from nearby areas collected from 1951 through 1983.
The USGS admits it’s a study of just one area, but it provides a good measurement for the future.
“None of the data that we have looked at as part of this study suggests that any groundwater contamination is resulting from natural gas production activities,” said USGS hydrologist Tim Kresse. “However, this study does not speak to other wells that were not sampled, every chemical used during the hydraulic fracturing process, or water quality changes that might take longer to occur. It does provide a baseline to use to evaluate any possible changes in the future.”
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who sits on Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) Environment and Public Works Committee, said the study puts a dent in environmentalists’ arguments against fracking.
“The president and his administration have been trying to cripple hydraulic fracturing for years, even though domestic energy production has been one of the only bright spots in our economy, thanks in large part to the utilization of this technology,” Vitter said.
“It’s certainly encouraging to see this positive result from a study using sound and transparent science to draw conclusions instead of ideology,” he added. “The EPA’s mishaps with fabricating evidence in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming caused an unnecessary attack on an effective, efficient and safe method of developing domestic energy. Studies like these from the USGS help set the record straight.”
Vitter wrote President Obama last month to highlight how the UK is moving toward fracking.
“As numerous members of your cabinet and administration look to frustrate and perhaps cripple fracking in the United States, I ask that you take a serious look at the decision the UK made last week to allow fracking,” the senator wrote. “In fact, an analysis of what the unemployment rate in this country would have been over the last four years without fracking is perhaps overdue.”
It was reported yesterday that U.S. oil production exceeded 7 million barrels a day for the first time since March 1993 thanks to the expansion of fracking.