Marcellus Fracking: Facts & Fictions

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
31 October 2011

An environmental report on a gas-well blowout in Bradford County in April found no long-term detriments to Pennsylvania groundwater or watersheds, despite unsubstantiated claims that thousands of gallons of hydraulic "frack fluid" contaminated well water and a Susquehanna River tributary.

It's an object lesson in the folly of predetermined conclusions.

The accident drew immediate condemnation from anti-drilling activists and threats of a lawsuit from Maryland's attorney general because the Susquehanna empties into the Chesapeake Bay. But a 179-page report by SAIC Inc. found no lingering environmental harm stemming from the release of fracking fluids from Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Atgas 2H well site. The environmental impacts were of short duration and confined to surface waters around the site.

The study was funded by Chesapeake Energy but conducted according to state Department of Environmental Protection protocols and accepted by the agency, the New York Post reports.

Of course, a single report shouldn't toss caution to the wind as it applies to the Marcellus shale gas industry. But it does toss cold water on those who allow their "science," or their agenda, to wander far from the facts.

As this industry grows throughout the commonwealth, it must proceed in a responsible, environmentally safe manner. But those who bird-dog the industry must also do so responsibly and refrain from the hyperbole that too often clouds the Marcellus shale debate.