Energy & Natural Resources

Conducted as part of the National Energy Technology Laboratory research for the Department of Energy, a new study has encouraging findings regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing.  The study, conducted during hydraulic fracturing of wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, found no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids, and that the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the rock mass did not extend to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field during or after hydraulic fracturing.
Continue Reading Fracking Study Finds No Detectable Gas or Fluid Migration

A Yale-led study suggests that natural gas drilling activities could be associated with increased reports of dermal and upper respiratory symptoms in nearby communities.  The study, “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Researchers affiliated with Yale University, University of Washington, and Colorado State University conducted a health symptom survey of 492 persons in 180 randomly selected households with ground-fed water wells in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Washington County.  The county was, at the time of the survey, home to 624 active natural gas wells.  The survey sought information regarding dermal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological symptoms.  Respondents also answered questions about environmental hazards in the community, air quality, water quality, soil quality and environmental noise, odor, and traffic concerns.
Continue Reading Hydraulic Fracturing May Be Pathway to Future Mass Tort Liability

According to a new study, hydrocarbon gas contamination in drinking water close to hydraulic fracturing activity is likely caused by breaches of well integrity from casing or cementing issues, and not from upward migration of gas from deep formations.  A study by researchers from five different universities, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, found that fugitive gas contamination is most likely associated with casing or cementing issues that compromise well integrity.  “[O]ur data do not suggest that horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing has provided a conduit to connect deep Marcellus or Barnett Formations directly to surface aquifers.”  The study, titled “Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales,” was conducted by researchers from Duke University, The Ohio State University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and University of Rochester.

The researchers used noble gas and hydrocarbon tracers to distinguish between natural and anthropogenic sources of methane contamination and aimed to study two issues: (a) are elevated levels of hydrocarbon gas in dinking water aquifers near gas wells the result of natural or anthropogenic sources, and (b) if fugitive gas contamination exists, what mechanisms cause it.  Analyzing 113 samples of drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus Shale, and 20 samples overlying the Barnett Shale, the researchers identified eight discrete clusters of fugitive gas contamination (seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas).
Continue Reading Hydraulic Fracturing And Drinking Water

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has submitted revised rules that could significantly impact hydraulic fracturing operations, and liability resulting therefrom.  These revisions impact chemical disclosure requirements, trade secret protections, and presumptions of liability for pollution.  On August 29, 2014 the IDNR submitted its Second Notice of Revised Administrative Rules for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).  According to the IDNR, the revisions substantially strengthen and clarify several sections of the proposed rules based on “a record level of public participation.”
Continue Reading Illinois DNR Submits Revised Administrative Fracking Rules

On May 9, 2014 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under Section 8 of the Toxic Substances Control Act seeking public comment on whether companies must disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  Read the related May 12, 2014 post by clicking here. The USEPA

On May 9th the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) initiated a process that may result in federal regulation of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  In the past 10 years, United States production of oil and gas has skyrocketed, due in part to the increased use of fracking technologies that use highpressure injection of fluids, sand, and chemicals to stimulate the release of oil and gas from geological formations which were difficult to access with other techniques.  While fracking technologies have been in use for some time, environmentalists have argued that the public lacked adequate information to assess whether chemicals used in fracking posed represented threats to human health or the environment.
Continue Reading USEPA Takes First Step Toward Possible Federal Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing