Living In Gasland? Test Your Water!


Oil and gas in Jonah, Wyoming | © EcoFlight

Oil and gas in Jonah, Wyoming | © EcoFlight

This week has been jam-packed with news on natural gas issues across the country.  Here are some of the highlights:

New Duke Study Confirms Methane Contamination

Following up on a study from May 2011 [PDF], researchers from Duke University have gathered more evidence to support their assertion that natural gas concentrations are higher in drinking water wells near natural gas drilling sites in Pennsylvania.  Researchers found that methane concentrations in drinking water were six times higher for homes within a kilometer of natural gas wells.  They also found that ethane and propane- compounds found in the deeper geologic layers that are being drilled for natural gas- were more common in water wells closer to natural gas operations.  Notably, they did not find contamination from fracking fluids. 

EPA Drops Investigation into Pavillion Water Contamination

In 2011, EPA released a draft of their report investigating reported drinking water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming.  Since that time, EPA has come under fire for taking on this investigation and asserting that drinking water may have been contaminated by natural gas operations.  This week, EPA announced that it would not be pursuing the completion of their investigation, but rather leaving it to the (skeptical) state to deal with the issue.  The 2011 draft report marked the first time the EPA publicly linked fracking and groundwater contamination, so it is a big disappointment to hear that they will not be pursuing this investigation further.

EPA Fracking Report Pushed Back to 2016

The EPA has been conducting an investigation into the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies.  Originally, EPA stated that the study would be completed by 2014.  Now they expect a draft by the end of 2014, which will be followed by a review process.  The final report will be released in 2016.  Apparently, this issue is more complex than anticipated.  This study is important because it will be looked at very critically, and relied upon for good science documenting the impacts of fracking on drinking water supplies.  It is probably best to take the time to do it right.

BLM Taking Comments on Fracking on Public Lands

Finally, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently taking comments on their revised draft rules for natural gas development on public lands.  The draft rules need to be improved, as they are deficient in a number of ways, as outlined by NRDC.  The BLM is accepting comments on these regulations until August 23. 

What other fracking news has come across your radar lately?  We are eager to hear the news from your neck of the woods!