UT Researcher Leading Fracking Study: "We're Gonna Look at Every Claim We Can Find."

Categories: The Environment
ChipGroat.jpeg
UT-Austin geology professor Chip Groat
A week ago today, as you may recall, the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute announced they'd be joining the growing ranks of universities with major studies of hydraulic fracturing, with a $300,000, nine-month project of their own. Today, thanks to the Texas Tribune and KUT News, you can hear more about researchers' plans today, courtesy the institute's associate director, Chip Groat, who says his team is going to cast a wide net.

Groat says they'll look at complaints from the Barnett Shale here in North Texas, the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and Louisiana, and New York and Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation. "We're gonna map them in space, we're gonna map them in time," he says, "and try to take each of these water, air, earthquake kind of issues and lay it out."

Groat, a geologist at UT's Jackson School of Geosciences, says his gut reaction to water contamination complaints is that Barnett Shale is too deep for fracking chemicals to seep all the way up into wells and aquifers -- but by compiling  as many complaints as possible, some explanation may take shape. "How in the world could something that deep get all the way up to the surface? So you don't think that it can happen, but that doesn't mean it doesn't," Groat says.

Slated "to get started straight away," the study'll be an "independent assessment" of fracking complaints, while also developing new law and policy recommendations -- the university says it'll be the first study to do both of those. It'll also be done in consultation with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Of course, even a nine-month study's going to come too late for Dallas's gas drilling task force, which, according to that call for applicants sent out last week, will wrap its work by October.

A major EPA study on gas drilling is also due out next year.

Since then-SMU professor Al Armendariz's 2008 study on gas drilling's contribution to air pollution in the Barnett Shale, a pair of controversial university studies have looked at the industry with a focus on the Marcellus.

A Cornell University study released in April warned of the climate change impact of the methane leaks from natural gas drilling and transfer. Critics say it overestimated methane's actual contribution to climate change.

A Duke University study released last week tackled water contamination, suggesting wells closer to drill sites were more likely to be contaminated by methane. Industry groups pointed out the study didn't say fracking was to blame, or that fracking chemicals were in the water too.
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16 comments
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Sharpatti
Sharpatti

When a gallon of water costs more then a gallon of gas, don't frac-ing ask why?

Susanne
Susanne

So, are they gonna come up here from Austin? Or just stay in their labs making their maps??  I hear there are some nice places for overnight stays in Dish, TX...the Compressor Station Inn and Restaurant.  They are not responsible for nosebleeds. Lots of possibilities in the scenic and beautiful Barnett Shale.

Max
Max

 I*f the folks at the Roy Huffington Shool od Earth Sciences at SUM are involved good. If not, pure bullshit, most of these acolytes are light weights like Armendariz. Fad chasers, with the Gangrene Religion and the eco-warriors. Max from the Sandspit

claytonauger
claytonauger

It's obvious you not only don't have spell check, but never met Dr. Armendariz.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

 Now that Dave Neumann is out, this will require a new co chair for the task force. Who gets it?Who appoints it? Deadline for the task force is in one week. Dave Neumann should NOT be the one choosing who is on the task force. Underline that sentence.

Because of this announcement from UT and all the other studies in play, this is one of many reasons that the task force calendar should be six months minimum not 16 hours as is planned. The city extended the leases 30 months, what's the rush? Theresa O 'Donnell suggested that it take one year.

I wonder how we went from one year down to 16 hours. But I think I know who has that answer.

Susanne
Susanne

 16 hours for gas drilling...sounds like a dog and pony show in the making.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

your lips to Mary Suhm's ears.

Guest
Guest

Industry groups pointed out the study didn't say fracking was to blame, or that fracking chemicals were in the water too.

If we're not allowed to know what the super-secret chemicals that are used in fracking are, how will we know if we find or don't find them? (Granted, if there are no chemicals found at all, that would be a solid clue, but short of that...)

Jason
Jason

You look at chlorides and other TDS’s in the water, produced fluid is full of them and its much easier to detect than any fracking additive. BTW, they didn’t find any chlorides or excesses in TDS’s in their studies so its safe to conclude that produced fluid isn’t going into the water table.

Robert
Robert

I guess there are no complaints yet from the people living in the Eagle Ford Shale area. Towns like Carrizo Springs are booming from Eagle Ford Shale drilling activity and money.

No to urban drilling. Outside of urban areas I don't know.

Marc
Marc

I seriously doubt that you will find a rancher living in a desolate area with limited water resources who favors taking the water he needs to survive and using it for frac'ing a gas well with the result that the water is permanently polluted, but if you can find such a rancher, then please give us his name. I would be very interested in talking with him.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Make some calls down there and you'll find them.

Whoops
Whoops

Talk about missing the point. You have to drill down through those aquifers. A poor cement job on the casing, and those chemicals going down will seep into the water.

Edgar
Edgar

That's pretty basic.  Something tells me they'll take a look at that issue as well. 

RS1963
RS1963

 And he loses tenure in 3...2...1...

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