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Yesterday’s News Roundup told you about the puckering sound coming from Fort Worth’s Range Resources, a gas drilling company facing an $8.9 million fine from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. (The agency said the drilling company’s repeated failure to repair a gas well led to groundwater contamination.)

When gas drillers began pushing hard for lax regulation on urban drilling, they claimed loudly and proudly that their industry had never contaminated groundwater. When local residents complained about their water wells going bad after drilling started nearby, the gas industry denied responsibility. Residents who sought a legal remedy found themselves facing a team of industry lawyers ready to wage courtroom war for no matter how long it took or how much it cost. Residents who were lucky enough to settle out of court signed nondisclosure agreements.

Now comes a University of Texas at Arlington study that says fracking chemicals have caused “widespread” groundwater pollution in the Barnett Shale.

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“This study suggests the Environmental Protection Agency is taking a ‘see no evil’ approach to fracking water pollution,” said Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel. “The University of Texas, working independent of the oil and gas industry, found evidence of widespread groundwater pollution connected to fracking. The EPA, working for years with the oil and gas industry to study the same issue, managed not to find that evidence in its study released earlier this month. Perhaps that’s because President Obama’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy requires favoring oil and gas over the clean, renewable energy our communities and water really need.”

UT-Arlington and Inform Environmental LLC collaborated on the study, surveying 550 wells in the Barnett Shale. The study results were released on the heels of Denton repealing its ban of fracking after state lawmakers passed HB40 to deny cities the right to control drilling inside their city limits.

“Fracking water pollution isn’t a surprise to people living with fracking,” said Earthworks Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson. “But it must be a surprise to Texas regulators, who claim to have never found any. Denton was forced to repeal its ban last night. Now Denton and all Texas communities are in the hands of state government, which seems bound and determined to protect the oil and gas industry, not the public. What this study really shows is why communities must have local control to protect their own health and safety.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. The headline is a lie. Read the actual UTA report which states that there is no known direct link to Barnett Shale development. It does state concerns with further studies and observations being deemed necessary. The UTA report has no basis of comparison with present measured levels of impurities prior to Fontenot, with no studies of this comprehensive magnitude being performed in the study area prior to Barnett Shale activities.

    The study area has long been subject to agricultural, urban and commercial activities prior to Barnett Shale development. The impartiality of the author is much more easily measured when his other sources are considered; all activists that fail to appreciate the cleaner air that we all breathe resulting from fuel-switching to natural gas.

    • The evidence is very strong. If there is an elephant in the room passing gas, don’t blame it on the dog.

      Statements from the author:

      EnergyWire:
      “We found way more contamination in areas that have been heavily drilled,” said biochemist Zachariah Hildenbrand. “A lot of these compounds are drilling-specific. There are some pretty telltale signs.”

      WFAA:
      “Dr. Hildenbrand told News 8 by phone Wednesday that all of the chemicals are associated with the fracking industry.”

      “When you find a BTEX compound with a chlorinated compound with an anti-corrosive agent all in the same water well, it’s pretty shocking evidence that there’s been a problem,” said Hildenbrand. “The only industry that uses all of those simultaneously is the oil and gas industry.”

      “The conclusion we can make is where there is more drilling there is more abnormalities in the water,” Hildenbrand said.

  2. Another conclusion, easily made, is that the leaders of the pack, the heavy-weights, consist of greed-head Baggers and Repug Peckerwoods. Nothing much new to see here.

    • Another conclusion that’s easy to surface is that money talks, but Jesus said “for it’s in giving that we receive” and the receiving wasn’t a piss-ant royalty check from the rat gas drillers. Steve knows this…he simply doesn’t care. One of the names to describe these anti-social jerks is “Tea-Bagging Greed-Head Losers”.

  3. The headline is false. This is a bad cement job problem. I live 3 miles away. Have 40 years experience in the oil industry and have been tracking this since December of 2010. Has NOTHING to do with fracking. It’s a bad cement job which allowed the barnett shale to communicate with the trinity aquifer. Numerous water wells were effected.

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