Stanford Univ Misses the Mark with Fracking Depths Study

missing the markWhat could of been a valuable research project by a Stanford University researcher is, instead, just more “fracking maybe/might/could/possibly affect groundwater” headline grabber. Stanford environmental scientist Dr. Rob Jackson, a seasoned researcher, set out to determine at what depths is fracking safe and does not affect groundwater (“The Depths of Hydraulic Fracturing and Accompanying Water Use Across the United States” — abstract below). The press release describing the research attempts to redefine any shale well drilled and fracked at less than one mile down as a “shallow” well. This is an inaccurate characterization. From the release: “The most recent such study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, finds that at least 6,900 oil and gas wells in the U.S. were fracked less than a mile (5,280 feet) from the surface, and at least 2,600 wells were fracked at depths shallower than 3,000 feet, some as shallow as 100 feet. This occurs despite many reports that describe fracking as safe for drinking water only if it occurs at least thousands of feet to a mile underground, according to Jackson.” If a well was drilled at 3,000 feet down, that’s still 2,000-2,500 feet below water aquifers–a quarter of a mile of solid rock between the two! Not to mention that 2,600 wells out of 44,000 wells Dr. Jackson studied is a puny 6% of the total–a very small percentage. In other words, the vast majority of shale wells drilled are a mile or more under the surface. Interestingly, for all of the talk about “shallow” wells and the potential dangers of fracking, Dr. Jackson’s study “has not found evidence that frack water contaminants seep upward to drinking-water aquifers from deep underground”…

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