This is big news folks. You may recall that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a multi-year study of hydraulic fracturing in a transparent attempt to seize control of oil and gas drilling in the U.S.—grabbing that control away from the individual states who are empowered under the U.S. Constitution to regulate drilling in their own states. As part of the EPA study, they are analyzing water samples in locations where there has been a lot of shale gas fracking (see this MDN story for a copy of the EPA’s study plan).
Chesapeake Energy participated shoulder to shoulder with the EPA by taking water samples at the same time and from the same locations in Bradford County, PA. They then had those water samples analyzed by accredited laboratories, and the results analyzed by an independent specialist. Here’s what they found…
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently conducting a national study to determine if hydraulic fracturing has any impact on drinking water sources. As part of a larger study, the EPA is conducting five focused retrospective studies in separate areas across the country including Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
Samples were taken in Bradford County during the study’s first round of sampling in October and November 2011. In a collaborative effort, Chesapeake Energy Corporation consultants collected split samples with the EPA from 15 individual drinking water sources for analysis by accredited laboratories. Chesapeake then commissioned WESTON Solutions, Inc. to critically evaluate the results and compare them with more than 4,000 historic and baseline groundwater samples in the area. Approximately 310 of these samples came from the United States Geologic Survey’s public databases and predate any Marcellus Shale natural gas development activity in the area. Based on the data evaluated, WESTON has concluded these drinking water sources have not been impacted by Marcellus Shale natural gas development activity – including hydraulic fracturing. [emphasis added]
In advance of a public release, these findings were submitted to the EPA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and landowners involved in this study. Chesapeake hopes the EPA will find WESTON’s report useful in meeting Congress’ request for independent sources of information to be included in the agency’s influential scientific assessment regarding hydraulic fracturing.*
A copy of WESTON’s complete findings (360 pages) is embedded below. Anti-drillers will howl that test results from Chesapeake prove nothing—that Chesapeake has a vested interest. But the anti-drillers would be wrong (again). These preliminary results prove that fracking does not harm drinking water supplies and give us a heads-up that the coming EPA report will no doubt conclude the same thing.
*Chesapeake Energy (May 29, 2012) – WESTON Solution’s Evaluation of Split Sample Results Taken During EPA’s Bradford County, Pennsylvania, Hydraulic Fracturing Study Finds No Impact from Marcellus Shale Gas Activities to Water Sources