Study concludes that fracking does not increase methane levels in drinking water

Over the past couple of years, the number of studies related to the alleged environmental impact from hydraulic fracturing have increased dramatically. In fact, some of these studies have contradicted each other. That said, lately, multiple studies have concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not have the detrimental impact on the environment that several environmental groups have alleged. The latest study to examine hydraulic fracturing has concluded that fracking does not cause methane contamination of drinking water in Pennsylvania.

The study concluded that the methane present in drinking water did not result from hydraulic fracturing operations in the area. This latest report studied over 11,300 drinking water wells in Pennsylvania. This study was led by Donald Siegel, a hydrogeologist at Syracuse University. Siegel noted that in rare instances poorly constructed wells permit the transfer of methane to drinking water; however, he stressed that this was the result of poor construction, not hydraulic fracturing in general.

Siegel’s study casts doubt upon two earlier studies that suggested that there was a connection between the methane content in drinking water and hydraulic fracturing. Notably, one of these studies only examined 60 wells and the other 141 wells. According to Siegel, these prior studies erred by selecting wells known to have structural problems. In fact, the prior studies acknowledged that the primary culprit for methane contamination is poorly constructed wells.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) and Johnjerica Hodge ( or 713 651 5698) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.