Natural Gas Facts, Science Continue to Prevail

As more science-based natural gas research is brought forth – ranging from air and water quality to public health – it’s becoming increasingly clear that safe, tightly-regulated shale development is enhancing our environment as well as our economy.

This week, in fact, new Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) research once again determines that natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing is not responsible for elevated levels of methane in several northeastern Pennsylvania private water wells – rather, as the science shows, this methane was naturally-occurring. Here’s what they’re saying about these independent, fact-based findings:

  • Associated Press: Gas drilling isn’t to blame for a high-profile case of methane contamination in northeastern Pennsylvania, state environmental regulators declared Monday. … The state Department of Environmental Protection said its 16-month investigation shows WPX isn’t responsible for high levels of methane and other contaminants in the private water wells at three homes. The methane in the residents’ wells is naturally occurring shallow gas — possibly from nearby Salt Springs State Park — and not production gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, DEP said. The agency said that samples taken from the wells and from Salt Springs exhibited similar water chemistry, including high levels of barium, iron, chlorides and other contaminants. “We’re pleased that a science-based, fact-finding effort by the state definitively showed that our operations were not responsible for methane migration issues in Susquehanna County,” WPX spokeswoman Susan Oliver said. (4/30/13)
  • Bloomberg News: Methane in the water wells of a Pennsylvania town visited by Yoko Ono in her campaign against hydraulic fracturing wasn’t caused by nearby drilling for natural gas, the state environmental regulator said. In the northeastern town of Franklin Forks, samples from three private water wells are comparable in their chemical makeup to the natural spring at a nearby park where methane had been detected long before fracking began in the area, according to [DEP]. Testing also determined the gas in the water samples taken from the private water wells wasn’t of the same origin as that in the nearby gas wells, the department said in a statement yesterday. (4/29/13)
  • Washington Times: After a 16-month investigation, state regulators Monday said that natural gas fracking, contrary to highly publicized claims, isn’t to blame for high methane levels in three families’ drinking water in a northern Pennsylvania town. … The developments Monday in Franklin Forks, Pa., also will make it much more difficult to argue that the wildly successful drilling method is harmful to drinking water. The state’s [DEP] now says there is no evidence to connect natural gas drilling with high levels of methane in private water wells in the small town, which sits within the Marcellus Shale region, one of the largest known natural gas deposits in the world and exhibit A of how fracking is transforming the American energy landscape. The agency specifically says the gas is coming from elsewhere. “The testing determined that the water samples taken from the private water wells contained gas of similar isotopic makeup to the gas in water samples taken from Salt Springs State Park,” which contains high levels of naturally occurring methane, the DEP said in a statement. (4/29/13)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania environmental regulators on Monday concluded that Marcellus Shale drilling was not responsible for a high-profile case of methane contamination of private water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania. The state [DEP] said it has closed the books on an investigation of the methane migration in Franklin Forks, Pa., which anti-drilling celebrities Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon visited in January. Citing a 125-page consultant’s report, DEP says the methane in some residents’ wells is naturally occurring shallow gas, not production gas from well drilling. (4/29/13)
  • Scranton Times-Tribune: Poor water quality at three Susquehanna County homes appears to reflect background conditions and cannot be attributed to nearby gas drilling, the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday. … DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said the agency reviewed WPX’s findings but based its conclusions on its independent investigation. “There’s just naturally occurring methane in that area,” she said. “Some areas of the county are more prone to methane than others.” (4/30/13)
  • WNEP-TV: The [DEP] says natural gas drilling is not to blame for high levels of methane found in wells in Susquehanna County. The state started investigating in 2011 after three families near Montrose complained of methane gas in their drinking water. DEP determined that water taken from the homes is similar in makeup to samples taken from Salt Springs State Park about a mile away. The state says the park in Susquehanna County is known for having naturally occurring methane. (4/29/13)

Interested in learning more about how the natural gas industry is working to ensure that groundwater resources are protected? Please view the MSC’s Recommended Practices for Pre-Drill Water Supply Surveys as well as Responding to Stray Gas Incidents. And also visit LearnAboutShale.org for more natural gas-related information, and join the online conversation by using #LearnAboutShale. We hope to hear from you.