Syracuse U Study: Fracking Doesn’t Cause Methane in PA Water Wells

crickets chirpingYou can’t tell us there isn’t political bias in the world of so-called hard science and whether or not important research gets reported. In 2011 Duke University published a shoddy “study” that attempted to show a link between the presence of 68 shale wells and high levels of methane in nearby groundwater supplies (see MDN In-depth: Duke University Study Links Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling with Methane Contamination of Water Wells). That study got all sorts of coverage in the media. After their sloppy work was exposed by a number of scientists, the same group doubled down to try and salvage what little credibility they had left by publishing a second study in 2013 concluding the same thing (see Duke Study #2: Drilling Causes Methane Migration in Water Wells?). More media fanfare of “See, it really is true!” There were several fatal flaws in Duke’s research: they cherry picked the wells they used, they used a small data set (68 water wells in the first study, 141 in the second), and they had no baseline measurements–no “before and after” measurements to know if the methane was already present (as it so often is in northeastern PA). So what if some real researchers were to come along and use a data set hundreds of times larger (data on 11,000+ northeast PA water wells) and what if that data has baseline information–the before picture. Seems like that would settle it, right? That would address the weaknesses and shortfalls of the previous, shoddy research. Such a study was just published in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology…

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