Fracking & Protecting Groundwater

More than two dozen scientific studies and expert assessments have concluded that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is not a major threat to groundwater. In fact, many studies have examined groundwater pollution and specifically ruled out fracking as the cause. Click on the tiles below to learn more about each report.

“The most interesting thing we discovered was the groundwater chemistry in one of the areas most heavily developed for shale gas – an area with 1400 new gas wells – does not appear to be getting worse with time, and may even be getting better.”

Pennsylvania State University (2018)

“We found no relationship between CH4 concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites.”

University of Cincinnati (2018)

“The depth separation between oil-bearing zones and drinking water-bearing zones in Texas makes direct fracturing into drinking water zones unlikely, and it has not been observed in Texas.”

The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (2017)

“UOG [unconventional oil and gas] operations did not contribute substantial amounts of methane or benzene to the sample drinking-water wells.”

U.S. Geological Survey (2017)

“Based on consistent evidence from comprehensive testing, we found no indication of groundwater contamination over the three-year course of our study.”

Duke University (2017)

“In the following discussion, we show that the overall body of evidence that is, sampling results aided by earlier observations, strongly suggests a natural origin for the dissolved methane in the Parker-Hood cluster.”

University of Texas (2017)

“Without a proper understanding of preexisting methane occurrence in groundwater, investigations may incorrectly conclude that unconventional hydrocarbon development and production has altered shallow groundwater quality when it has not (i.e. a false positive).”

Syracuse University (2016)

“We found that the injected fluids did not move upwards into layers carrying drinking water.”

German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (2016)

“Evidence does not indicate that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallow depths intersected by water-supply wells. Also, based on an evaluation of hydraulic fracturing history, and methods used in the Pavillion Gas Field, it is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing has caused any impacts to the water-supply wells.”

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (2016)

“[H]ydraulic fracturing operations are unlikely to generate sufficient pressure to drive fluids into shallow drinking water zones.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2016)

“We have found no evidence for direct communication with shallow drinking water wells due to upward migration from shale horizons.  This result is encouraging, because it implies there is some degree of temporal and spatial separation between injected fluids and drinking water supply.”

Yale University (2015)

“[E]xperts and government regulators have repeatedly acknowledged a lack of evidence linking the hydraulic fracturing process to groundwater contamination.”

U.S. District Court, Wyoming (2015)

“We see no broad changes in variability of chemical quality in this large dataset to suggest any unusual salinization caused by possible release of produced waters from oil and gas operations, even after thousands of gas wells have been drilled among tens of thousands of domestic wells within the two areas studied.”

Syracuse University (2015)

“We found no documented instances of hydraulic fracturing or acid stimulations directly causing groundwater contamination in California.”

California Council on Science & Technology (2015)

“Using innovative techniques such as isotopic ‘tracer’ compounds that distinguish the source of chemicals in well water, Jackson has not found evidence that frack water contaminants seep upward to drinking-water aquifers from deep underground.”

Stanford University (2015)

“The comparison of groundwater data from this study with historical data found no significant difference for any of the constituents examined and therefore warrant no further discussion.”

U.S. Geological Survey (2014)

“The authors of this report also met with officials from eight States (Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas) and determined that, based on state investigations, no report of groundwater contamination in these states was associated with hydraulic fracturing.”

University of Michigan Public Health Report (2013)

“Although preproduction water-quality data were lacking for the wells sampled for this study, geochemical data presented a well-defined pattern of geochemical evolution based on natural rock-water and microbially mediated processes, strongly suggesting that the resulting water quality is derived from these natural processes with no effects from gas-production activities.”

Duke University, U.S. Geological Survey (2013)

“Overall, there is no scientific basis for significant upward migration of HF fluid or brine from formations in sedimentary basins. Even if upward migration from a target formation to potable aquifer were hypothetically possible, the rate of migration would be extremely slow and the resulting dilution of the fluids would be very large…Given the overall implausibility and very high dilution factor, this exposure pathway does not pose a threat to drinking water resources.”

Gradient (2013)

“The often-postulated percolation upward of fracking water used in deep, long lateral well extensions to contaminate drinking water aquifers near the surface through the intervening impermeable rock formations is highly unlikely and has never reliably been shown to have occurred.”

University of Michigan Technology Report (2013)

“Routine tests by the water purveyor show the community’s water supply meets drinking water standards, including the period of high-rate gravel packs and conventional hydraulic fracturing, as well as the first high-volume hydraulic fracture in September 2011… Before-and-after monitoring of groundwater quality in monitor wells did not show impacts from high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-rate gravel packing.”

Cardno Entrix (2012)

“[R]egulatory officials we met with from eight states – Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas – told us that, based on state investigations, the hydraulic fracturing process has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination within their states.”

U.S. Government Accountability Office (2012)

“Neither state [Ohio and Texas] has documented a single occurrence of groundwater pollution during the site preparation or well stimulation phase of operations.”

Ground Water Protection Council (2011)

“In this study, statistical analyses of post-drilling versus pre-drilling water chemistry did not suggest major influences from gas well drilling or hydrofracturing (fracking) on nearby water wells, when considering changes in potential pollutants that are most prominent in drilling waste fluids.”

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (2011)

“A supporting study for this dSGEIS concludes that it is highly unlikely that groundwater contamination would occur by fluids escaping from the wellbore for hydraulic fracturing. The 2009 dSGEIS further observes that regulatory officials from 15 states recently testified that groundwater contamination as a result of the hydraulic fracturing process in the tight formation itself has not occurred.”

N.Y. Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (2011)

“The protection of freshwater aquifers from fracture fluids has been a primary objective of oil and gas field regulation for many years. As indicated in Table 2.2, there is substantial vertical separation between the freshwater aquifers and the fracture zones in the major shale plays. The shallow layers are protected from injected fluid by a number of layers of casing and cement — and as a practical matter fracturing operations cannot proceed if these layers of protection are not fully functional. Good oil-field practice and existing legislation should be sufficient to manage this risk.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2010)