Shale gas

August 6, 2013

Study: pathways for gas migration into groundwater not created by hydraulic fracturing

Source:, July 30, 2013
By: Wayne J. D’Angelo, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

The image of water flowing from a tap being ignited with a lighter has become heavily associated with hydraulic fracturing in the minds of the public. But a research paper produced by the National Ground Water Association suggests this widespread image may be a mirage. The paper, published in the May/June issue of the journal Groundwater, details the results of a study of 1,701 water quality analyses from drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The study found that the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction has not created pathways for rapid gas migration into shallow groundwater. Rather, the concentration of methane in the region’s groundwater is disproportionally high in water wells located in valleys, regardless of their proximity to shale gas wells. The findings suggest that the topography of the region, rather than shale gas development, explains elevated methane levels in Susquehanna County water wells. The paper’s authors extrapolate that the findings have significant implications for the understanding of risks associated with shale gas extraction.

The authors also examined the results of isotropic and molecular analyses of hydrocarbon gases from 15 water wells in Susquehanna County by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA, and concluded that the gases in the water wells are most consistent with those found in the spaces around the casings of local gas wells. These gases originate in relatively shallow shale formations, and do not exhibit features consistent with gas produced from deeper Marcellus shale.

These findings, while significant, are very much consistent with numerous other studies across the nation, none of which have found an instance of methane contamination in water from the fracturing of shale well below the aquifer.

With assistance from Andrew McNamee


July 2, 2013

OH Fracking Waste Disposal Increasing

Read here about the increase of fracking waste in Ohio resulting from the shale gas and oil drilling process.…

June 25, 2013

Government Study on Effects of Drilling Not Complete Until 2016

Read here about a study being done on the effects of shale gas drilling on water quality that will not be complete until 2016.


May 2, 2013

Hydraulic Fracking & Water Pollution

Source:, April 30, 2013
By: Grant McDermott


In planning my series on the environmental impacts of natural gas for The Energy Collective, I had always intended for my third post to cover the critical issue of water needs. While climate concerns may dominate for some (see my previous posts), it seems fair to say that the most contentious aspect of the shale gas revolution is related to fears over high water demands and contamination risks posed by hydraulic fracturing, i.e. “fracking”.

Unfortunately for me, Jesse Jenkins inadvertently pre-empted my article with a great recent post asking how much water is actually consumed by fracking for shale gas? (Short answer, probably not nearly as much as you think.) While I don’t wish to reproduce Jesse’s article verbatim, I think a recapitulation of his main points is in order:

  • The U.S. fracking industry was responsible for around 0.3 percent of the country’s total freshwater consumption in 2011. Even in arid regions like Texas, this figure is probably not much larger than one percent.
December 20, 2012

Fracking Regs Released by CA

Read here about the draft fracking regulations that have been released by California.


May 18, 2012

A first look at the coverage implications of hydraulic fracturing

Source:, May 16, 2012
By: Thomas F. Segalla, Andrew J. Scholz and Matthew D. Cabral

(Thomas F. Segalla is a founding partner of Goldberg Segalla LLP in Buffalo, N.Y. Andrew J. Scholz is special counsel in the firm’s White Plains, N.Y., office and Matthew D. Cabral, an associate in the firm’s Albany, N.Y., office)1

The controversial natural gas extraction process known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, has come to dominate the nation’s attention as we seek to, finally, extricate ourselves from dependency on Middle East oil. On one hand, fracking offers the potential to recover a tremendous amount of natural gas from various domestic shale formations, and in doing so, to generate new wealth and to create jobs in historically depressed areas of the country. On the other hand, fracking opponents claim there are significant environmental concerns associated with the practice, which they fear may lead to ground and surface water pollution, seismic events, and other unintended consequences.

With the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation expected to issue regulations on fracking by year’s end, anticipation on both sides of the issue grows daily regarding the potential risks, opportunities, and liability implications. Businesses, utilities, insurers, municipalities, environmental groups, and citizens and landowners all have plenty at stake, and once fracking makes its way into New York, the unique nature of this controversial practice will inevitably test traditional theories of liability and insurance coverage — as well as create correspondingly unique, first-impression issues in the courts.…

December 15, 2011

As Gas Drilling Spreads, Towns Stand Ground Over Control

Source: New York Times Online, December 14, 2011
Posted on:

As energy companies move to drill in densely populated areas from Pennsylvania to Texas, battles are breaking out over who will have the final say in managing the shale gas boom.

The fight, which pits towns and cities against energy companies and states eager for growth, has raised a fundamental question about the role of local government: How much authority should communities have over the use of their land?

The battle is playing out in Pennsylvania as the Republican-controlled legislature considers bills that would in their current form sharply limit a community’s right to control where gas companies can operate on private property. Critics say the final bill could vastly weaken local zoning powers and give industry the upper hand in exchange for a new tax, which municipalities badly need.

The legislation has struck a nerve in a state where land control has long been considered quintessentially local.

“I’m a conservative Republican, and this goes against all my principles,” said Brian Coppola, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Robinson Township, in Washington County west of Pittsburgh. The pending legislation, he said, “is an enormous land grab on the part of the industry. He added, “Our property rights are being trampled.”…

November 7, 2011

Shale gas means money, plenty of water worries

Source:, November 6, 2011
By: Joun Murawski

To appreciate the promise and betrayal of the nation’s natural gas rush, look no further than this rural community in southwestern Pennsylvania where the 957 residents barely outnumber the dairy cows.

Like dozens of farming communities in the state, the countryside here is dotted with drill pads, derricks, compressor stations, truck convoys, earth movers, open-air reservoirs and pipelines that snake along fence lines and carry natural gas to refineries.

A similar transformation could await North Carolina, where an estimated 1,400-square-mile underground natural gas deposit is believed to lie less than a mile under rural Lee County and surrounding regions. Locally, a shale formation stretches from Butner and Creedmoor through Falls Lake and Durham to Sanford and Carthage.

Though only a fraction of the size of the multi-state Marcellus Shale up north, this state’s 200 million-year-old shale gas deposit could also turn crossroads into boomtowns and subsistence farmers into millionaires.

But the gas rush in Pennsylvania has brought deep divisions.

The construction, excavations and storage tanks in cornfields and pastures are evidence of ecological destruction to some, economic revival to others. Underlying the acrimony are lawsuits between homeowners and gas companies, local government efforts to restrict drilling, contentious town hall meetings, and persistent complaints of water contamination.…

August 29, 2011

New estimate raises Marcellus gas estimate forty-fold

Source: Houston Chronicle, August 25, 2011
Posted on:

A new assessment of the Marcellus Shale says the formation in the Northeastern U.S. may contain 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas, far more than believed less than a decade ago.

The new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey updates a 2002 study of the gas-rich formation that stretches through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The earlier study concluded the region had about 2 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The growth in the USGS estimate takes into account advances in drilling and completion techniques — namely horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — that have made more formations accessible.

Geological data

June 7, 2011

Opposing sides continue to spar over study that links oil, gas drilling to groundwater contamination

Source: Greeley Tribune (Colorado), June 5, 2011
Posted on:

Last month, researchers at Duke University unleashed a mini bombshell on the oil and gas industry with a study demonstrating a strong link between oil and gas drilling and groundwater contamination.

But no sooner did their study come out that many refuted its findings, stating researchers’ science was not solid without having baseline readings of existing levels of methane before drilling began.

Duke researcher and professor Robert Jackson, too, states the study hasn’t proven anything, but it suggests drilling on the East Coast has effects on groundwater that should be concerning for the rest of the globe.

“Organizationally, the industry has been unhappy with the methane results, and some environmental groups have been unhappy because we said we didn’t find any evidence of fracking fluids” in the groundwater, Jackson said in a phone interview. “It’s always been a good-news, bad-news story.”…