Even more studies looking at fracking’s possible environmental effects

The possible environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing are evidently a hot subject for research. Yale University researchers recently released yet another study on the topic, this one assessing the relative rate of residents’ rates of complaints regarding their health in relation to the proximity of those residents’ homes to natural gas wells. The study categorized proximity into three groups: those less than one kilometer from a gas well, those between one and two kilometers from a gas well, and those further than two kilometers from a gas well. The study found that residents living closer to the gas wells complained about health problems more frequently than those who lived further from the wells. However, the researchers cautioned that their results are tentative and that more research should be done on the topic.

Pennsylvania State University researchers also came out with a new study recently, this one on the topic of whether residual fracking fluid that remains in shale formations after production poses a risk to groundwater. The researchers found it quite unlikely that groundwater could be contaminated by such residual water, because “capillary and osmotic forces . . . propel [residual water] into, not out of, the shale.” While narrow in scope, this study may help put to ease concerns about groundwater contamination, at least with respect to any hypothetical risks posed by residual water left in shale that has been fracked.

 This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 3662) and Jim Hartle (jim.hartle@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713 651 5695) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.