Long-Awaited EPA Study Finds Fracking Has Not Led to Widespread Water Contamination

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its long awaited, five-year study, which finds “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.”

As many have noted, this is the most important study on hydraulic fracturing to come out over the past five years – a fact that EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development pointed to in a press release,

“It is the most complete compilation of scientific data to date, including over 950 sources of information, published papers, numerous technical reports, information from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.”

EPA today also released nine peer-reviewed scientific reports, which played a big role in contributing to EPA’s overall groundwater study.

EPA’s study actually builds upon a long list of studies that show the fracking process poses an exceedingly low risk of impacting underground sources of drinking water.  It corroborates a “landmark study” by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into hydraulic fracturing fluid and found no groundwater contamination after twelve months of monitoring. It is also in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council, to name just a few.

The report contradicts the most prevalent claim from anti-fracking activists, which have made “water contamination” the very foundation of their campaign against hydraulic fracturing.  As EID reported in March, after heralding the report at its inception, anti-fracking organizations like the NRDC and InsideClimate News (ICN) later went into damage control, downplaying the forthcoming report, likely due to what it would conclude.

Hydraulic fracturing has brought cleaner air, significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, created millions of jobs, reduced energy prices, strengthened national security, and turned the American economy around.

With this new report, it couldn’t be clearer that shale development is occurring in conjunction with environmental protection — and the claims by anti-fracking activists have been thoroughly debunked.


  1. kim says:

    All good and dandy except for the fact they pump billions of gallons of fresh water down hole that can NOT be used after that even after recovering some!!

    • scott says:

      But a little known fact is that an average shale gas well replenishes the eco-system with more water than it takes to frac the well through water vapor during methane combustion. FACT! So a net positive in adding water to the eco-system and low carbon emissions are a bonus.

    • Neil says:

      You have been misinformed,
      To frack one well it takes approximately two Olympic sized swimming pools of water, much of which is recovered.
      Toxic chemicals are NOT used and normally the only (very weak) radio active material is not used in the well, it is actually already in the ground – remember – they used to mine for Uranium.
      Any radio active cuttings are safely disposed of and are so weak that they are safe to handle.

      • Scottar says:

        Yes and studies support your claim:


        New Stanford Study Confirms No Contamination from Fracking, “Shallow” or Not


        Fracking is Greener Than “Green”!

        The antifracking groups are working overtime on their propaganda.

        • Dave says:

          eregyindepth.com (in your first link) was launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) in 2009, cfact.org (in your second link) is run by David Rothbard, associated with the Cornwall Alliance, an evangelical Christian “environmental” group who fights for Big Oil and against the idea of man-made climate change.


          Big Oil front groups linking to other Big Oil front groups is not evidence that Big Oil projects are not bad for the environment or humanity.

      • Tamatha F Zemzars says:

        Wow are you misinformed. A quick review of the chemical composition of fracking water by the very scientist who developed the technique reveals a cocktail of detergents, emulsifiers and hydrochloric acid, Relased in the process of surface recovery are a cocktail of heavy metals which, while naturally occuring, get sprayed on roads evaporated or simply leak of the drill pad. Finally, while C)2 emissions are 50% lower for methane versus gasoline, the methane and other volatile gases are constantly venting from the wells to reduce overpressure. The methane is also a greenhouse gas.

        Now I’m not a “tree-hugger”, but if a company dropped a well just outside my property line and then ran a horizontal well under my property I would be pissed-off. Even without the chemmical issues, the visual blight created by these things being plopped onto or adjacent to peoples property is nearly as bad a strip mining. Then there’s all those pesky contaminated “production water” holding pits. Nothing like turning your beautiful rural property into a giant cess pool.

        Finally, lets just look at the case of the Fort Worth area. All the leaking, venting, seeping methane is a hazard. there is no amount of excuses that can hide the fact that they are a visual blight and reduce air quality. There is plenty of evidence that being near refineries, highways and methane production facilities increases the risk of asthma.

        Now, if methane was so wonderfully safe, why does the government require odorants to ensure that commercial methane leaks can be detected…Duh, it’s explosive. Also, how many people have to have their private property destroyed in the name of profit. Why can;t we find a way to drill and recover the gas without millions of tons being vented into the environment and lost for future energy use? Certainly a technology where almost 50% of the wells fail over time and where 5-9% of the product is lost to the atmosphere can be improved upon?


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  4. […] draft assessment on fracking and drinking water supplies was released, the oil and gas industry triumphantly focused on a headline-making sentence: “We did not find evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on […]

  5. […] legislation on water conservation.  The EPA today spends more effort on pollutants, such as their recent study disputing water contamination from fracking.  But the agency is also in a great position to consider the bigger immediate water scarcity […]

  6. […] oil and gas advocates, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America, believe this is proof from the U.S. government that fracking is a clean source of energy that poses no threats to human […]

  7. […] in a bevy of research with similar conclusions, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s five-year study that found “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to […]

  8. […] to make positive contributions to the environment and the economy. Just a few examples include further proof that fracking does not cause systemic water contamination, the billions of dollars oil and natural gas development pumps into the Texas education system, the […]

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