The fracking report: Positive news
Nowhere near a final report, much less the last word on the issue, a U.S. Department of Energy study's preliminary findings that Marcellus shale natural gas drilling is unlikely to contaminate water wells nevertheless brighten the outlook for an industry that must operate safely to maximize this clean, affordable domestic energy source's benefits.
Researchers from South Park's National Energy Technology Laboratory used seismic instruments, tracer fluids and shallow bore holes to monitor — for a year — Marcellus drilling at a Greene County site with some older, shallower wells. Thus far, there's no evidence of hydraulic fracturing chemicals injected deep into the Earth traveling to within 5,000 feet of the surface, almost a mile from aquifers.
The final report is expected by year's end. Drilling can contaminate water via above-ground mistakes and poor gas-well construction. And fracking fluid, moving just a few feet per day, might contaminate aquifers over longer periods, though impervious rock caps both the Marcellus and Utica shales.
Still, the preliminary findings are encouraging — and all the more significant for coming from respected, independent researchers.
Marcellus shale natural gas drilling already has produced tangible benefits. This study suggests concerns about groundwater and fracking won't stop the industry short of realizing its full potential as a key component of eventual U.S. energy independence.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.N. Watch: Insulting women
- The Export-Import Bank: Yet another crock
- Sunday pops
- The Box
- Obama’s problem: He denies reality
- Myopic automakers should embrace today’s high-tech gearheads, not attempt to stifle their innovations
- Armstrong County Laurels & Lances
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- Saturday essay: Cruel civilities