Sierra Club Once Again Denies Science on Fracking and Groundwater

In a not-so-surprising move, Sierra Club issued a statement last week disregarding the findings of a recent United States Geological Survey (USGS) study that found fracking is NOT impacting groundwater in three major U.S. shale plays.

And just what was Sierra Club’s issue with the report’s findings? Sierra Club claims USGS “failed to include in its analysis the Marcellus Shale, the country’s largest gas reserve.”  This particular study was purely focused on three shale plays located in the Gulf region of the U.S.; however, USGS has conducted several studies on Pennsylvania and the Marcellus since 2012 and has a Marcellus-specific study planned for this year, as E&E News recently explained.

Sierra Club also tried to pass blame off on President Trump’s administration, claiming the study, which was conducted from 2015 to 2016 under the Obama administration, “seems to be part of a troubling trend from this administration of attempting to erase science that is inconvenient for their friends in the fossil fuel industry.”

What the Sierra Club does not dispute — that actual findings of the study — just so happens to be the only thing that really matters.

This study echoes the topline conclusions of an already overwhelming list of peer-reviewed papers – seven from government agencies – concluding hydraulic fracturing is not a major threat to drinking water.

That list of research includes last month’s Duke University (and Natural Resources Defense Council funded) study that found fracking “has not contaminated groundwater in northwestern West Virginia.” It is also in line with the conclusions of the recently finalized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) five-year study, which found no evidence of widespread water contamination of drinking water from fracking. In addition to those two examples, the most notable examples of studies showing fracking is not a threat to groundwater are:


  1. Glenn Wahl says:

    Energy In Depth once again, fails to be honest. ” It is also in line with the conclusions of the recently finalized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) five-year study, which found no evidence of widespread water contamination of drinking water from fracking. ” That “No evidence of widespread water contamination” line was in their earlier draft, NOT their finalized study, so for you to say it was is disingenuous.

    • Seth Whitehead says:

      Following the release of EPA’s final report, former EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Thomas Burke told CBS This Morning that the report found “the overall incidence of impacts is low.” The data in the final EPA report did not change. And Burke’s ON THE RECORD comments confirm that EPA’s topline conclusion DID NOT change, either. There is no difference between saying “no evidence of widespread, systemic impacts” and “the overall incidence of impacts is low.”

      • Glenn Wahl says:

        Actually, they did add data on contaminations in the form of text boxes, plus kept the original data from earlier versions . But to be clear, the author of the article used the exact wording of the earlier version when talking about the EPA “finalized” report, when, in fact, the finalized report did not include that wording. But it’s good to see that you and other pro-fracking folks are at least admitting that fracking causes contaminations- it used to be that the stance was “never any contaminations”. We’re making progress. Now, about those dozens of other issues………..

    • Seth Whitehead says:

      Christine Ehlig-Economides, chair of Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST), a team comprised of academics from a wide range of universities, industry experts and state regulators:“In Texas and pretty much everywhere, hydraulic fracturing has not been proven to have an adverse impact on drinking water.”

  2. Hoehne says:

    Is there “cherry picking” of findings going on?


  1. […] These “Keep It In the Ground” groups keep on denying science. […]

  2. […] Several studies have concluded that fracking is not a major threat to drinking water. After five years of research, the U.S. EPA released its final study earlier this year on fracking and groundwater and found no evidence of widespread contamination. As for greenhouse gases, EPA released its 2017 final Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the data clearly shows that methane emissions from both natural gas and petroleum systems have declined significantly since 1990. These emissions also decreased from 2014 to 2015 – at a time when natural gas production hit record highs. U.S. carbon emissions have fallen 14 percent since 2005, reductions expert after expert have largely credited to increased natural gas use. But despite these facts, these “Keep It In the Ground” groups keep on flat out denying science. […]

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