BREAKING – EPA: Fracking poses no 'widespread, systemic' harm to drinking water

Ouch, that’s going to leave a mark.

Via Politico – A much-anticipated EPA report on hydraulic fracturing hands a victory to the oil and gas industry by concluding that the extraction process has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” according to a draft copy of the agency’s release obtained by POLITICO.

The conclusions of EPA’s years-long fracking study may yet change ahead of their release later today, but they appear to bolster natural gas producers that are benefitting from Obama administration power plant rules.

[Note: this link to the draft copy report provided by Politico is broken, will update as soon as they do -Anthony]
UPDATE: link to EPA report below
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June 4, 2015 9:22 am

Ok now-Drill baby, drill. Stop our and the world’s dependence on the Middle East…
Let them eat sand…
ISIS would be eating their camels..

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  tgmccoy
June 4, 2015 11:05 am

But nevertheless, this report will not stop the Greens of vilifying Fracking for fossil fuels; they never cared much about facts…
The funny thing with the Greens is:
– they are convinced: Fracking for fossil fuels is a diabolical torture of mother nature
– but the very same technique is quite OK for them, if it is used for CO2 sequestration or Geothermal energy generation
So much for the intelligence of our self-declared “saviors of the world”…

Michael C. Roberts
Reply to  Gentle Tramp
June 4, 2015 1:32 pm

Here is the link to the 9 studies backing up the Press Release, found at the EPA website:
Please excuse me if this is found to a duplication of other potential submissions in this thread, as I have not finished reading it all before I decided to post this link at the top..

george e. smith
Reply to  Gentle Tramp
June 4, 2015 1:36 pm

“””””….. “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” …..”””””
Translates to “harmless.”

Drop Bear
Reply to  Gentle Tramp
June 4, 2015 8:12 pm

This report had no modelling input so hasn’t got a leg to stand on (sic)

Ian Macdonald
Reply to  tgmccoy
June 4, 2015 8:33 pm

I would have thought that was the strongest argument to drill on; a jihadist who can only afford one round for his AK47 is not much of a threat. Neither is he likely to fly a plane into a building if he can’t afford a ticket. Of course that doesn’t stop him doing beastly things to his women, but then we can only show him by example the error of his ways in that respect.

Reply to  tgmccoy
June 5, 2015 1:22 am

The US is doing this already, although not allowed. By Lynn Doan (Bloomberg) For a nation that bans most oil exports, the U.S. still finds a way to ship more abroad than at least two OPEC members.
The shale oil-rich nation exported more than half a million barrels a day in April, the most since at least 1920, and more than Libya or Ecuador shipped in the same month.

Bruce Cobb
June 4, 2015 9:25 am

And yet life-giving CO2 is “pollution”. Go figure.

June 4, 2015 9:25 am

Did Exxon make a donation to the Clinton Foundation?

June 4, 2015 9:29 am

Wow, can’t wait to hear the likes of Joe Romm et al try to put a positive spin on this one!

June 4, 2015 9:31 am
June 4, 2015 9:32 am

There have been examples of fracking polluting aquifers, but it’s due to improper well completion, not fracking per se. If the cementing and casing and whatever (someone with more industry knowledge can provide the proper terminology) is done correctly, there is no risk to drinking water.
On another topic, how many wells have been polluted by agriculture?

Reply to  John
June 4, 2015 11:58 am

Non-fracked wells can also contaminate drinking water if the casing is not properly sealed.

Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 7:49 pm

Good point, MarkW, the properly constructed wells don’t make the news. Only the screw-ups do. The public hears of those and assumes that they all are dangerous. It’s the old rule that 1 Oh Sh!t cancels 20 attaboys.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  MarkW
June 5, 2015 6:12 am

One needs to have a better understanding of the “root-of-the-problem(s)” associated with the drilling of NG wells and the polluting/ruining of water wells ….. because what one normally reads or hears about said “problem” is far from “the truth of the matter”.
The problem is “rooted” in the fact that there are “surface property” owners …. and there are “mineral rights” owners, ….. which may be one-in-the-same ….. or two (2) different parties. And it is only with the latter of those two that the “water well problem” arises.

June 4, 2015 9:34 am

I’m more concerned about seismic activity, the water issues would be mostly based on locality and easily resolved with best practice tweaking, but the reactivating old fault-lines in certain regions seems to me the bigger issue at hand.
“Oklahoma experienced 585 magnitude 3+ earthquakes in 2014 compared to 109 events recorded in 2013. This rise in seismic events has the attention of scientists, citizens, policymakers, media and industry. See what information and research state officials and regulators are relying on as the situation progresses.”
“While we understand that Oklahoma has historically experienced some level of seismicity, we know that the recent rise in earthquakes cannot be entirely attributed to natural causes. Seismologists have documented the relationship between wastewater disposal and triggered seismic activity. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has determined that the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.”

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 9:47 am

I believe that fault lies can eavoided and/or frackng material used that won’t cause movement. O the othr hand, some geologists WANT water injection to promote small fault line movements, thus avoiding a big one late on. This was recommended long before fracking came about.

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 9:53 am

Petroleum production has been associated with small earthquakes for decades. Fracking is clearly causing them in Oklahoma, but the fact is we’re talking about magnitude 2-3 quakes. Almost all of them aren’t even felt, the worst of them are about the same as having a garbage truck drive down the street, and none cause damage to competent structures. I’ve read anecdotes about people who believe these quakes are damaging their homes, but it’s because the homes are poorly built. A properly built house will not be damaged by a magnitude 3 earthquake.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  John
June 4, 2015 10:07 am

“…fracking is clearly causing them in Oklahoma….”
Speculation is not proof, thin correlation is not causation.

Matthew Epp
Reply to  John
June 4, 2015 11:36 am

John – Fracking does NOT cause earthquakes. The studies that have found a link between oil and gas drilling and earthquakes all clearly state that. The increase in seismic activity is due to wastewater injection at rates and pressures too high for the formation to absorb. The waste water is primarily the by product of production when the oil and gas are separated from water present in the formation. The waste water is usually a brine solution that needs to be disposed of rather than treated so it is injected into deeper brine aquifer formations. There are numerous studies by various agencies, USGS, EPA, etc that concur.
If you are curious, just google search injection well earth quakes and read for your self.
An additional thought to consider, the amount of energy imparted to a formation during the fracking phase of production is only enough to fracture the formation the well bore is in for a lateral distance of less than 1000′ from the well bore, typically. When used on a 10,000 ft lateral, the affected area is only 10,000×2000′ = 20,000,000 sqft, which sounds like a lot but converted to sq miles (5280×5280=27,878,400 sqft/sqmi) = 0.717 sqmi, at a typical formation depth of 5,000 to 10,000 ft,. Even the crews and equipment doing the fracking directly above the fracked area don’t feel any earthquake. There simply isn’t enough energy generated and released by the fractured rock to cause a perceptible earthquake.
Matthew R. Epp

Reply to  John
June 4, 2015 12:22 pm

Just think of the size of the pumps that are used to generate the pressure to fracture the rocks.
Compared to anything you will find around your house or most businesses, they are huge, but compared to the size of the rock that is being fractured, they are tiny. I don’t know how to calculate the total amount of energy that is being imparted to the formation, but I doubt it’s more than a few dozen pounds of TNT. And it’s applied over a period of minutes to hours.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 10:02 am

While the State’s announcement relies on highly speculative arguments of one individual and remains controversial, the USGS determined that the majority of the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma have occurred along several previously unknown fault lines which have been dormant for several million years.
Interestingly, for several days immediately following the recent devastating quakes in Nepal, the earthquake activity in Oklahoma dropped to nothing. Coincidentally, the State experienced record breaking rainfall at the same time and there has been a bit of speculation as to whether the extra weight of the rain- soaked soil and replenishing aquifers may have played a role in the reduced quake activity. After all, the recent flurry of quakes started while areas of the State were suffering through one of the worst droughts since settlement and statehood.
Here’s a great link to keep up with recent Oklahoma quake activity:{%22feed%22%3A%221day_m25%22%2C%22search%22%3Anull%2C%22listFormat%22%3A%22default%22%2C%22sort%22%3A%22newest%22%2C%22basemap%22%3A%22grayscale%22%2C%22autoUpdate%22%3Atrue%2C%22restrictListToMap%22%3Atrue%2C%22timeZone%22%3A%22local%22%2C%22mapposition%22%3A[[33.114549382824535%2C-101.35986328125]%2C[37.26968150969715%2C-92.57080078125]]%2C%22overlays%22%3A{%22plates%22%3Atrue}%2C%22viewModes%22%3A{%22list%22%3Atrue%2C%22map%22%3Atrue%2C%22settings%22%3Afalse%2C%22help%22%3Afalse}}

Reply to  Alan Robertson
June 4, 2015 10:27 am

I’d guess that it would take years for rain to reach the aquifers.
IOW, I call bullshit on the drought => earthquakes theory.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Alan Robertson
June 4, 2015 10:48 am

I’ve no clue and you might be right. The increased weight of the water at surface might have had an effect, also highly speculative.
What is also interesting is the abrupt halt of any activity for days after the Nepal quakes.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Alan Robertson
June 5, 2015 6:32 am

@ Lee H,
If the level of the Water Table decreases ….. it will likely cause a subsidence of the surface land above it.
The Water Table of the Ogallala Aquifer has been in decline for years n’ years.

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 10:42 am

You do realize the news about earthquakes caused by fracking is a lot of noise about a good thing instead of a bad thing?

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 10:53 am

It’s not a well known problem, of course. But the entire question is one of magnitude, if you’ll forgive the pun.
You can get a sense of things, for CO at least, from

Reply to  Jquip
June 4, 2015 11:03 am

No doubt the scientific “jury” is still out on the subject, but I think the idea that injecting largish volumes of water into cracks in the earth might contribute to some shifting earth seems like a fairly straight forward cause and effect. But yes, droughts and groundwater depletion do INDEED contribute to earth shifts that result in earthquakes.
Then again, I think many factors contribute to quakes: Sun magnetic storms, glaciation, Moon/Tidal, some solar system alignments, magma transport…and so on.
Oklahoma scientists say earthquakes linked to oil and gas work
“The Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association (OKOGA) said further study is needed.
“There may be a link between earthquakes and disposal wells, but we… still don’t know enough about how wastewater injection impacts Oklahoma’s underground faults,” said OKOGA President Chad Warmington.”

Reply to  Jquip
June 4, 2015 12:29 pm

Fraking involves a few thousands of gallons. Even a small rainfall will drop millions of gallons.
Perspective is your friend.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Jquip
June 5, 2015 6:44 am

But yes, droughts and groundwater depletion do INDEED contribute to earth shifts that result in earthquakes.
Oklahoma scientists say earthquakes linked to ….

If close counts, maybe linked to …. The Water Table of the Ogallala Aquifer has been in decline for years n’ years. To wit:

DD More
Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 11:26 am

What took fracking so long to start? Warning – Dog Whistle Alert!! Halliburton is to be named.
On March 17, 1949, a teamof petroleum production experts converges on an oil well about 12 miles east of Duncan, Oklahoma – to perform the first commercial application of hydraulic fracturing.
Later that same day, Halliburton and Stanolind company personnel successfully fractured another oil well near Holliday, Texas.
By 1988, the technology will have been applied nearly one million times. The technique had been developed and patented by Stanolind (later known as Pan American Oil Company) and an exclusive license issued to Halliburton to perform the process. In 1953, the license was extended to all qualified service companies.
Now you are talking about the change 2013 to 2014? Do you actually read and understand or just have alarmisum fed direct?

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 12:02 pm

Just how did they demonstrate that the recent increase in earthquakes is not natural in origin?
Sounds like the assertions from the climate change camp. We can’t think of anything else, therefore it must be fraking.
How exactly does fraking reactivate faults that are hundreds of miles away from the site of fraking?
They have documented a link between wastewater disposal and seismic activity? Where? I’ve seen attempts in the past, but they have always been refuted once released.

Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 1:10 pm

Meh, it’s still cooking, but seems reasonable to investigate.
“Hydrofracking by its nature causes tiny earthquakes, because it involves fracturing of rock—but these are largely imperceptible, as the process takes place in relatively weak, shallow shales that crack before building up much strain. Quakes triggered by waste injection wells can be potentially more powerful because more fluid is usually being pumped underground at a site for longer periods, said Roger Anderson, an energy geophysicist at Lamont-Doherty who is not involved in the study. Once fluid enters a preexisting fault, it can pressurize the rocks enough to move; the more stress placed on the rock formation, the more powerful the earthquake. The Lamont data suggests that the Dec. 31 movement near the Ohio well was a strike-slip motion, in which one rock face slides across the other horizontally.”
Ohio Quakes Probably Triggered by Waste Disposal Well, Say Seismologists

Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 8:12 pm

Yes It’s not as easy as when i was a kid. When the house shook for a few seconds at 2pm on weekdays it meant that the nearby limestone quarry was blasting out a wall section to process on the following workday. Don’t know the magnitude, but the vibrations from hundreds of tons of limestone falling 100 feet or so following an explosion were quite noticeable.

Reply to  Kuldebar
June 4, 2015 2:05 pm

“Seismologists have documented the relationship between wastewater disposal and triggered seismic activity”
Wastewater disposal is not fracking.

Reply to  Ken
June 4, 2015 2:10 pm

Is there a “rolls eyes” emote available?
Seismologists have documented the relationship between wastewater disposal and triggered seismic activity.
Line of reasoning:
Ergo, pumping a liquid into the ground in a similar process might also result in similar outcomes…

June 4, 2015 9:39 am

Too late, NY already banned it based on a (political) health hunch.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Resourceguy
June 4, 2015 9:55 am

The top 10 states for onshore production are all west of the Mississippi River, (except for a minor variant in Louisiana). Those 10 states account for 96% of all domestic production. Think anyone really cares about New York production? As you imply, only the politicians in New York give a crap about New York oil production, and for all the wrong reasons.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
June 4, 2015 10:04 am

Uh, it’s fracking for natural gas in NY and PA, not oil. And the landowners do care.

Phil R
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
June 4, 2015 10:18 am

Uh, I would think that the land and mineral rights owners who are not able to lease their land or receive royalties might care a little bit. Much of central New York state (where the Marcellus shale is mostly located) is rural and relatively poor, and any extra income would help them and the local economies.

Mountain Man
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
June 4, 2015 10:34 am

It’s Marcellus and Utica natural gas fields in NY, PA, OH and WV. PA has 7 of the top natural gas producing counties in the world. NY is saving it’s natural gas. PA economy would be in the tank if not for fracking. Yes there are some isolated pollution incidents in PA. But our ground and surface water are far cleaner now than during the coal strip mine era.

Phil R
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
June 4, 2015 11:40 am

Mountain Man,

Yes there are some isolated pollution incidents in PA. But our ground and surface water are far cleaner now than during the coal strip mine era.

Good point. My dad grew up in coal mining country in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and my granddad used to work in the coal mines. We spent vacations up there when I was a kid. It’s all relative. It’s not the fact that the environment is much cleaner than in the past and new technologies and regulations minimize what contamination there might be, some people want a zero-tolerance policy no matter how negligble any effect might be.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
June 4, 2015 12:03 pm

Every bit helps. The field in NY is an extension of the same formation found in PA and is pretty large.

Don K
Reply to  Resourceguy
June 4, 2015 10:15 am

If you read the report, New York’s ban is not permanent and was based largely on there being inadequate evidence one way or the other. New York has the additional problem that in much of the state the formation where hydraulic fracturing is most likely to be practiced — the Marcellus Shale — is pretty near the surface compared to states further South. There’s presumably some minimum amount of rock that one wants between the aquifers and the target bed, and New York actually has to worry about how much that is.

Phil R
Reply to  Don K
June 4, 2015 10:24 am

I don’t have a reference handy and would be happy to be corrected, but I think the Marcellus shale in New York is around 7,000-7,5000 feet deep in the areas targeted for drilling. That may be shallower than in other states (don’t know), but I don’t think that can be considered to be “pretty near the surface.”

Reply to  Don K
June 4, 2015 10:30 am

My parents are on the edge of the Marcellus formation, so this is something that I’ve given a bit of attention. Phil’s speculation of 7,000 feet seems quite low, from what I remember. I’d sooner think it’s around 7,000 meters.

Phil R
Reply to  Don K
June 4, 2015 11:43 am

Thanks for the response. I haven’t checked but if you are right, it helps support my point that the Marcellus is not “pretty near the surface.”

Reply to  Don K
June 4, 2015 1:44 pm

Eh… you were more right than I was.
The vertical drill depth is in the ballpark that you mentioned. The subsequent horizontal drilling operations then extend between one and two miles outward from the vertical bore.

Don K
Reply to  Don K
June 4, 2015 3:35 pm

The Marcellus is the surface rock in much of central New York. In the Albany area, you have to drive UP into the Helderbergs to get to it. It’s probably pretty far down in the SouthEast where it’s buried under really thick “Catskill Delta” sediments. But in much of the state the only thing above it is the Hamilton Group and a variable thickness of Upper Devonian sediments. You probably can find some areas in for example Ulster County where there are several kilometers of rock between the surface and the Marcellus. But mostly I think much less.
If you were paying for a drill rig, pipe, a crew, etc, I suspect you’d like to drill the shallowest well the authorities will permit.

June 4, 2015 9:44 am

I’ve often wondered if fracking *should* be used in fault-prone areas to make earthquakes happen earlier and more often. As I understand it, big quakes happen when stresses build up over a long period and are suddenly released all at once. Nothing we can do (yet) about plate tectonics, but I suspect that for a given plate movement. a lot of small quakes are *way* better than one big one.
Of course, it would take large amounts of political courage to stand behind such an effort.

Reply to  pbft
June 4, 2015 9:48 am

Exactly – the San Andreas fault was the original target

Joe Crawford
Reply to  arthur4563
June 4, 2015 10:42 am

Yes, but cooler heads prevailed. Years ago, many small quakes were traced to a gov. facility outside Denver that was pumping some rather dangerous chemicals deep into the earth for disposal. From what I remember this led to suggestions that they inject water into the San Andreas to lubricate it and remove the stresses with a series of light quakes rather than let them build up until they caused one massive quake. What shot that idea down was there was no way to determine how much stress had already accumulated and where, and how much would be released in the initial attempts at lubrication. In other word the first or a subsequent injection well might cause ‘The Big One’. There was no way to tell when or what might happen.

Ryan S.
Reply to  pbft
June 4, 2015 10:29 am

This is definitely something we should be researching but Geologists are a long way off. Knowing how the stress, and strain, is distributed along any given fault is not yet possible. By inducing slip in one area, you could be compounding strain in another.

Reply to  Ryan S.
June 4, 2015 11:19 am

Knowing how the stress, and strain, is distributed along any given fault is not yet possible.
Hey, maybe they could build a really complicated computer model!

Reply to  pbft
June 4, 2015 12:05 pm

Back in the 70’s, the experimented with injecting water into the San Andreas in an effort to release the energy slowly. The experiments failed, they weren’t able to create even small quakes.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 12:17 pm

From what geologists have said in these pages in other threads, there is really nothing which mankind can do to increase the amount of lubricity already extant in faults.

Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 12:26 pm

Makes sense to me, faults are huge, both in terms of length as measured from the surface, but also in terms of depths.
Beyond that, fault zones tend to be mazes of already fractured rock, which means much of the water that is pumped into a fault would quickly drain away.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 2:50 pm

Well… while considerations of scale make anything we might do seem like a gnat’s breath in comparison, as I remember it, the geologic faults are already so well- lubed that nothing else can be done to make ’em slicker, so to speak. All anecdotal hearsay on my part.

June 4, 2015 9:50 am

Spot the bureaucratic barnacle affixed to the taxpayer’s dollar who realises the climate has changed and it’s all about preventing species extinction, in this case, a regulator who has very few friends left …

Jerry Henson
June 4, 2015 9:54 am

Kuldebar, in 2014 most of Oklahoma was in a drought ranging from severe to moderate. Changes in the water table can,in my experience cause minor earthquakes.
Correlation is not causation.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Jerry Henson
June 4, 2015 9:59 am

As of this morning’s reporting OK is officially out of the drought, let’s see if the frequency and severity of the tremors there will subside…

Reply to  Jerry Henson
June 4, 2015 1:21 pm

“Correlation is not causation.”
But it can be, and rather often is, hence the reason why people usually suspect correlations first rather than last during the process of problem solving.
The only real mistake to be made with this approach is if one doesn’t follow through with the process of deductive reasoning and simply “settles” on a causation out of intellectual laziness.

Dodgy Geezer
June 4, 2015 10:02 am

…has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources,”…
er… but it does frighten butterflies and little kittens – some of whom may be in danger of extinction. And it might encourage paedophiles – more work needs to be done. It would certainly be premature to grant any licenses….
I note that in the UK, licenses have been refused on public order grounds. The argument was that the technique might be perfectly safe, but using it would encourage protests, which might be dangerous…

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 4, 2015 10:05 am

You left out asthma, the official go-to multi-purpose excuse.

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 4, 2015 12:08 pm

I’m starting to become sympathetic towards the Dirty Harry method of crowd control.
Shoot the first couple, and the rest will get the message.

Reply to  MarkW
June 4, 2015 5:34 pm

“Shoot the first couple, and the rest will get the message.”
Gengis Khan built his empire using this method.

Silver ralph
Reply to  MarkW
June 5, 2015 10:46 am

>>Shoot the first couple, and the rest will get the message.
Thats been the standard Muslim technique for controlling entire nations for the last 1,300 years. Its callled the Covenant of Dhimmitude. Just kill some cartoonists, and every Western politician and media outlet is suddenly putty in your hands – just look at the CNN dhimmitude broadcasts for prima face evidence…..

Tom G(ologist)
June 4, 2015 10:18 am

Insider in the industry here – already have seen some of the actual report. Will leave nothing but the GHG argument to environmentalist NGOs to argue. NY State certainly looks stupid now – or, at least, they appear to be exactly what they are: Politically corrupt.

Phil R
Reply to  Tom G(ologist)
June 4, 2015 10:27 am

Here’s hoping the prosecution of Sheldon Silver leads all the way to the top. 🙂

Reply to  Tom G(ologist)
June 4, 2015 10:30 am


June 4, 2015 10:31 am

Fracking is a real hot potato in the central belt of Scotland. I have forwarded the report to our local newspaper suggesting that if they don’t report on it they will be accused of bias.
Breath bated for the next edition next Thursday.

Rich Lambert
June 4, 2015 10:34 am

Most wells in north central Oklahoma are about 5,000 ft. deep or less. The earth quakes in the area are 2 to 3 times deeper. It doesn’t seem reasonable that fracking at 5,000 ft. depth would cause quakes at 10,000 to 15,000 ft. depth.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Rich Lambert
June 4, 2015 10:50 am

While the fracking may take place at around 5,000 ft. the used fracking fluid is usually injected into deeper wells to keep it below any potentially producing formations.

Power Grab
Reply to  Joe Crawford
June 4, 2015 2:42 pm

Right. I’ve seen speculating since 2009 that it was the injection wells (disposal wells), not fracking, per se.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Rich Lambert
June 4, 2015 4:08 pm

There is a good map of the Oklahoma quakes and the injection wells at: That site seems to document what the state knows or admits to regarding the correlation between them.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Joe Crawford
June 5, 2015 4:46 am

Just an FYI… Between 80%- 85% of the land area of Oklahoma is within 15 miles of a disposal well. The past few years uptick in quakes has occurred along several preciously unknown fault lines, not all over the state.
There was an injection well in Love County closed down several years ago because there was a very high correlation of seismic activity with that well.

June 4, 2015 10:34 am

There was never any proof that fracking had a negative affect other than turning the land the drilling was situated on from a natural area to an industrial one. Kind of the same affect as a city block or a suburb has on the natural habitat it replaces. The Loch Ness monster and alien abductions had more evidence to support them than the anti-fracking movement so the EPA results as a practical matter is not a surprise.
The question is whats the problem with coal, did coal not provide enough kickbacks, not grease enough palms to avoid government malfeasance? In other words who did they piss off and why?

Reply to  Alx
June 4, 2015 12:10 pm

Given the recent EPA reports on CO2 as pollution and fine particulates, the fact that the EPA followed the science for once is news worthy.

June 4, 2015 10:45 am

What is this going to do to seedy lawyers and people looking for pay days from the damaging affects of drinking water located on the same continent as fracking installations.
I remember during the reactor crisis in Japan people all of sudden were looking to file suits for everything from depression to constipation to changes in personality to any preexisting medical condition they happened to have. That any radiation beyond background levels did not make it to middle America was not a deterrent to their claims.

Mike Maguire
June 4, 2015 10:45 am

Improper disposal of waste water is a huge problem. In fact, in some applications, intentionally designed disposal methods are contaminating ground water and surface water/rivers/lakes.
Additionally, turning billions of gallons of fresh water into toxic water by adding millions of gallons of chemicals is an issue by itself.
Then, we have the actual hydraulic fracturing process which may be the lest harmful of the 3 but is a problem.
For the EPA to come to this conclusion, while finding that CO2, a beneficial gas is pollution, shows that they are a corrupt entity, driven by politics, not science.
Natural gas is the fuel that gets the favorable findings because it’s in, even though it pollutes many billions of gallons of fresh water, while coal is out because it emits more beneficial CO2.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
June 4, 2015 12:14 pm

There have been a handful of incidents where improperly stored chemicals contaminated local surface water.
There has never been any evidence of the fraking process contaminating sub-surface waters.
Nice of you to reveal yourself as an unthinking automaton so they I didn’t have to.
BTW, the governor of Colorado drank a glass of those “toxic” fluids at a press conference, and he’s still alive and kicking.

Reply to  Mike Maguire
June 4, 2015 1:32 pm

“turning billions of gallons of fresh water into toxic water by adding millions of gallons of chemicals is an issue by itself.”
A comment by Matthew Epp above implies that the injected water was not originally fresh water:
“The waste water is primarily the by product of production when the oil and gas are separated from water present in the formation. The waste water is usually a brine solution that needs to be disposed of rather than treated so it is injected into deeper brine aquifer formations.”

June 4, 2015 10:49 am

Reply to  Elmer
June 4, 2015 7:27 pm

Thanks, Elmer! 😉

Steve Oregon
June 4, 2015 10:51 am

From my oil brother. On fracking and below, the waterless fracking concept discussed on WUWT.
“When we are drilling a well, we are required to protect ALL useable groundwater to a depth specified by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. This depth is specified during the permitting process. The depth typically is around 1200′. Protection is by way of cementing pipe in the shallow section of the wellbore. This is called surface casing. We first drill a 12 3/4″ diameter hole to 1200 feet. Then we run 8 5/8″ heavy wall seamless steel pipe to that depth with centralizers to keep it in the center of the well bore. Now we pump a calculated volume of cement down the pipe displacing it with salt water back up the outside of the pipe (annular space) until it reaches the surface. Excess cement volume is calculated to ensure we reach surface while a small amount of cement remains inside the bottom of the pipe (usually 20 – 50 feet). If less washout has occurred during drilling of the surface hole than calculated we sometimes circulate as much as 35 barrels of excess cement to surface as we displace the cement down the pipe. After all we don’t want to leave too much cement inside the pipe. Once cementing is done we must wait a minimum of 8 hours for the fast setting cement slurry to harden. During the running and cementing of the surface casing a representative of the Oil & Gas Division of the Texas Railroad Commission usually comes by to witness the process….we are required to notice them when it will be done. The composition of the cement slurry including all all additives, strengtheners and drying agents as well as the number and placing of centralizers is submitted for approval during the permitting process.
Now, and only now, that the surface hole has been properly cased can drilling continue to total depth. We go back into the cased hole with a 7 7/8″ bit and tag cement near the bottom of the surface casing and spend several hours drilling out cement until we get out of the pipe and start making open hole. The hole is then drilled to the permitted total depth, logged and cored. If it looks like it is going to be a producer the surface casing process is repeated with a string of production pipe. By this I mean we run 4 1/2”, 11.6 lb/ft steel pipe from total depth to surface, centralize and cement. Now we have 2 concentic strings of pipe protecting the groundwater and no hydrocarbon productive zone open into the wellbore….that comes later during well completion operations.
By the time we move into the completion phase the drilling rig and all other equipment has been moved off. A workover well servicing rig is moved on location and a perforating truck is rigged up. A gun is lowered into the hole by wireline and the pipe perforated with say 4 shots a foot through several peet of the productive zone. Our completion depths (where we perforate) are fairly shallow and are typically 4000 – 5500 feet. The perforating truck is released and the “frac” company starts mobilizing and placing equipment for the hyraullic fracturing of the well. This usually entails about 18 – 20 eighteen wheelers that include pumps, hoppers, blenders, tanks and what not. The sand laden frac fluid is pumped down the 4 1/2″ production pipe and pressured up until the rock behind the pipe and cement at the perforations breaks down or “fractures”. That pressure point is referred to as the “breakdown pressure point”. Pumping continues until the allotted sand has been delivered into the fracturing rock through the perforations via the frac fluid. Keep in mind the “fracking” occurs at an isolated zone 4000 feet below the protected ground water. After the frac job the well is shut in, all equipment except the “frac tanks” is released and the flowback of the fluid commences. Flowback is controlled to recover the fluid into surface tanks for disposal and done at a rate to ensure the sand stays in the formation as a proppant to hold the artificially created fractures open. Frac designs and computer modeling of the rock lithology show fracturing reaches out from the wellbore horizontally 250 – 700 feet depending on the size of the frac. Vertical growth during the frac job is usually limited to under 200 feet and can be controlled during the frac job by adjusting the injection rate.
There you have it. Everything from depth of surface water to be protected, chemical composion of cement, number and placement of centralizers to the disposal of the recovered frac fluid is regulated. Gas in water wells from what we do? I don’t think so. Not if rules are followed. Sure there are accidents and certainly an occasional operator that gets away with not complying but all the regulations in the world won’t cure that. Nor will a ban on fracturing.
Waterless Fracking
Sent: Tue, Nov 11, 2014 10:34 am
Subject: RE: Waterless Fracking
Adding CaCl or NaCl (generally not as effective) to the cross linked polymer gelled water reduces or somewhat abates swelling of water sensitive clays. Hydration of clay minerals causes expansion, and therefore a decrease in the permeability of a hydrocarbon bearing formation, resulting in reduced flow rates. This absorption of water can, at times, damage a formation to such an extent as to cause an otherwise potentially productive well to become non-commercial, ergo the use of the inhibitors. Les Johnson is spot on in alluding to the use of either carbon dioxide or nitrogen as not being cost effective. Anthony Watts, although correct in most of what he says, seems to disregard the cost implications of their use which would relegate many wells as uneconomic. Typical “greenie”…has a solution that would set the industry back decades in its development of proven reserves that could support a reduction in our country’s dependence on foreign crude supplies.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Steve Oregon
June 4, 2015 11:13 am

Thanks Steve, that information needs repeating occasionally. Being a rather emotional topic for some, there is always a lot of misinformation out there on fracking.

Reply to  Steve Oregon
June 4, 2015 11:14 am

Other states have similar requirement for sealing off potable ground water zones. The depths involved vary from state to state and sometimes within the state. A properly done completion and frack job should pose no threat to drinking water aquifers. I too am a geologist who works in the oil and gas industry exploring for oil and/or gas.

Reply to  Steve Oregon
June 4, 2015 1:14 pm

Only thing I would like to add. Is that while I’m pumping the hydraulic fracture through at least two and maybe as many as four concentric strings of cemented high strength steel casing, I also monitor the pressures to assure that the job is going where it will do the most good to increase oil or gas poduction. Should I see a dramatic pressure drop indicating that the job is going somewhere else, it takes less than 30 seconds to shut down the pumps. Then it is flowed back in order to remove any proppant in the well to use the pressure to avoid costly sand clean out procedures. In short, I as well as all of the environmentalists have the identical goal to avoid injecting $1,000,000 hydraulic fracture somewhere will it will not do any good. Of course their goal is more lofty in saving the planet, my goal is simply to produce oil.

June 4, 2015 10:57 am

I’ll admit to being rather surprised that the EPA went this way. A rather nice surprise.

June 4, 2015 12:07 pm

No “widespread” pollution. That means there IS pollution, so we still need to stop.
I can just about guarantee you’ll hear that argument or some version of it.

Reply to  TonyG
June 4, 2015 6:05 pm

If there were “widespread” pollution, we would have known about it by now. What the report says is that there ARE risks that need to be addressed, and call for SOME regulation.

June 4, 2015 12:27 pm

“A much-anticipated EPA report on hydraulic fracturing hands a victory to the oil and gas industry by concluding…”
I’d say the victory goes to the people who will benefit from using oil and gas, i.e. everyone.

Reply to  PaulH
June 4, 2015 12:53 pm

And hopefully to the citizens of the UK, if the report contributes to removing the irrational objections preventing us realising the national wealth that our shale gas resources represent. Our Treasury desperately needs the £billions of tax revenue that will flow from this resource if we are to maintain, for example, our health service at anywhere near an acceptable level in the face of an ageing population, not to mention the small matter of being able to defend ourselves militarily.
The Greens just can’t grasp the fact that imperative to get fracking in the UK is an economic one.

June 4, 2015 12:44 pm

Obviously none of you misinformed people watched matt Damons movie. The epa should all watch it too.

Reply to  Charlie
June 4, 2015 1:31 pm

Which movie ?

JT in Houston
Reply to  Charlie
June 4, 2015 2:09 pm

Do you mean the movie that was financed by the Middle East? The Middle East that doesn’t want us to develop our own energy sources so we can buy and be dependent on them?

Reply to  JT in Houston
June 4, 2015 2:22 pm

“A new film starring Matt Damon presents American oil and natural gas producers as money-grubbing villains purportedly poisoning rural American towns. It is therefore of particular note that it is financed in part by the royal family of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.”
“While left-leaning Hollywood often targets supposed environmental evildoers, Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which runs PR for Participant Media, the company that developed the film fund backing Promised Land, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.”
“The UAE, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has a stake in the future of the American fossil fuel industry. Hydraulic fracturing has increased the United States’ domestic supply of crude oil and natural gas in areas such as the Bakken shale formation and has the potential to increase domestic production much more in the foreseeable future. That means more oil on the market, and hence lower prices for a globally traded commodity.”

June 4, 2015 5:57 pm

If a prospective pay zone cannot be commercially exploited for political rather than technical reasons, the resource will remain in the ground for future generations to use as they wish. The same goes for coal.

June 4, 2015 7:32 pm

Is this payback for oil companies supporting AGW?

June 5, 2015 3:46 am

That same study states “lack of cooperation from oil companies”, “impossibility of getting actual number of compromised wells due to lack of cooperation ” and” results could be an artefact of lack of data”.
In other words… It’s bull.

John Law
June 5, 2015 4:41 am

I suspect the pollution is in the deep ocean and will find its way into the aquifers later!

June 5, 2015 5:01 am

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

Keeping in mind the motivation behind the study was to increase EPA size and control, the findings are significant. Hydraulic fracturing is safe.
Eventually they will release a similar study, just as weasel-worded, that will admit fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes. Affect earthquakes, yes, at least sometimes, but not cause them. The earth moves and builds up stress. Sometimes it shakes to relieve it.

June 5, 2015 7:48 am

So the EPA says no harm to the water…do you really think the fractivists care about the facts? They will just shift their focus to the air…because everyone is for clean air. And then they will jump on the fire horse…oh wait, they already do that in their aversion to burning fossil fuels. So they now have it all covered–fire, water, and air.

Warren in New Zealand
June 5, 2015 7:00 pm According to Sierra, and Eco Watch, The report refuted the conclusion arrived at by the U.S. EPA’s 2004 study that fracking poses no threat to drinking water, a conclusion used to exempt the fracking process from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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