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Fracking, Methane And Drinking Water

Dianne Saxe   By Dianne Saxe, Ontario Environmental Lawyer

The Ernst v. Encana fracking lawsuit gained strength last month with the publication of Rob Jackson's peer-reviewed paper: Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Jackson is a professor at Duke University, and his paper is published in the leading journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He shows strong evidence for methane contamination of drinking water where shalegas extraction is occurring.

"In active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km), average and maximum methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well and were ... a potential explosion hazard... We conclude that greater stewardship, data, and- possibly-regulation are needed to ensure the sustainable future of shale-gas extraction and to improve public confidence in its use."

Hydraulic Fracking in Marcellus Shale

For a lay explanation of the paper, read Flammable Gas In Drinking Water From Hydraulic Fracking. Jackson has also studied the potential risks that carbon sequestration poses to drinking water aquifers, another issue that energy and environment regulators should be taking into account.

Reprinted with permission from the Environmental Law and Litigation Blog.

The Environmental Law and Litigation Blog has been selected as a 2011 LexisNexis Top 50 Blog for Environmental Law & Climate Change winner.

Also read Dianne's blog, Pharmaceuticals, Drinking Water, and Liability.

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