Wednesday, December 14, 2016

In Last Ditch Effort at Relevance EPA Finds Fracking Faults

Days before Donald Trump takes over as President of the United States, and installs a pro-fracking anti-"environmentalist" as head of the EPA, the EPA issues a report contradicting it's previous reports and finding that, in a small number of cases, fracking (and mostly processes other than the actual fracturing of the oil and gas shale) can affect drinking water supplies: More Fracking Lies from the EPA:
. . . Finally! On page 70 of Chapter 6, page 346 of 666 pages… “demonstrated via case studies and other monitoring efforts”… Observations!!!

Page 6-71: Impacts to Drinking Water Resources
We identified some example cases in the literature where the pathways associated with hydraulic fracturing resulted in an impact on the quality of drinking water resources.
One of these cases took place in Bainbridge Township, Ohio, in 2007. Failure to cement over-pressured formations through which a production well passed—and proceeding with the hydraulic fracturing operation without adequate cement and an extended period during which the well was shut in—led to a buildup of natural gas within the well annulus and high pressures within the well. This ultimately resulted in movement of gas from the production zone into local drinking water aquifers (Section Twenty-six domestic drinking water wells were taken off-line and the houses were connected to a public water system after the incident due to elevated methane levels.
. . . Failed cement job. Not caused by fracking. Not an example of frack fluid polluting groundwater.

Page 6-72:
Casings at a production well near Killdeer, North Dakota, ruptured in 2010 following a pressure spike during hydraulic fracturing, allowing fluids to escape to the surface. Brine and tert-butyl alcohol were detected in two nearby monitoring wells. Following an analysis of potential sources, the only source consistent with the conditions observed in the two impacted water wells was the well that ruptured during hydraulic fracturing. There is also evidence that out-of-zone fracturing occurred at the well (Sections and
. . . Casing failure. Not caused by fracking. Not an example of frack fluid polluting groundwater.

Page 6-72:
There are other cases where contamination of or changes to the quality of drinking water resources near hydraulic fracturing operations were identified. Hydraulic fracturing remains a potential contributing cause in these cases.
That’s it? Really? Are you fracking kidding me? Oh wait… There’s more…

Page 6-72:
There are other cases in which production wells associated with hydraulic fracturing are alleged to have caused contamination of drinking water resources. Data limitations in most of those cases (including the unavailability of information in litigation settlements resulting in sealed documents) make it difficult to assess whether or not hydraulic fracturing was a cause of the contamination.
So a few cases where bad practices caused limited pollution. Well, that's what we have regulations to prevent, but the number of alleged incidents are very small and minor in comparison to the benefits of exploiting new oil and gas. When you drill tens of thousands of thousand foot holes, stuff them with explosives, blow them up, and then send gritty chemical laden water down them, unfortunate things are going to happen, albeit very rarely. Do we give up building bridges because they occasionally fall down and kill people? No, we examine the reasons for failure, and try to do better next time.

As you can imagine, today's Chesapeake Bay news feed is all over it:

The New York (N.Y.) Times - Reversing Course, E.P.A. Says Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water

Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette - EPA: ‘Data gaps’ block verdict on fracking, drinking water

Lancaster (Pa.) Online - EPA report: fracking for gas pollutes drinking water 'under some circumstances'

StateImpact - EPA: Fracking can impact drinking water

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