AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A University of Texas study says there’s no direct link between groundwater contamination and a controversial process to extract oil and gas known as fracking.

UT’s Energy Institute says contamination can occur due to spills above ground or mishandling of wastewater. But the institute argues that those problems are not caused directly by fracking.

Fracking involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil and gas to the surface. It’s used to improve productivity in gas reserves all over the U.S., including the Barnett Shale in North Texas.

An Energy Institute spokesman says no industry funds paid for the project. Fracking opponents say the study needs to be reviewed.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Stan Scobie says:


    I have a few observations:

    1. In the first 55 pages there is not one formal reference, despite a lot of factual and conceptual assertions. The reader is told that the details will be found further on – with no useful guidance as to just where.

    2. The 414 pg copy I downloaded yesterday from the U.T. site is a draft, yet the general media buzz and the presentation on the U.T. website is that it is a “report” implying carefully honed and finished and complete.

    3. The detailed section that I read very carefully, “Section 4 Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Development,” is labeled clearly “draft.”

    In a part I was particularly interested in, about substance migration related to drilling and fracking, only two of the seven references I marked for follow up were listed in the reference section.

    In an interesting instance the Boyer et al (2011) study of substance migration, published in Center for Rural Pennsylvania and subsequently withdrawn by the authors for further review, is cited without qualification as a fully fledged piece of science.

    There are very many other errors, citations incompletely described, obsolete and/or incomplete sets of related and appropriate references, etc.

    Overall, I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the work as a useful piece of “science” despite the tantalizng title: “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection….”

    It is just not ready for prime time.

    Stanley R Scobie, Ph.D., Binghamton, NY

  2. Mark French says:

    Dr. Scobie, you raise some very good points, and on other other sites went so far as to raise questions about whether the study was inherently biased based on the funding provided from the energy sector. In the same vein, I’d like to ask whether you have any affiliations that you have not disclosed above. If you are affiliated with other groups, why did you not disclose this in this letter?

    Finally, I live in Houston and see that you posted here, and on several other sites – essentially the same letter. I’m curious as to your motivation for spam bombing the internet with this letter, and whether your activity in this regard has anything to do with your involvement with any other organization. Finally, I note that you list your PhD, the subtle implication being that you are rendering a qualified opinion. Otherwise, why list it? Dr. Scobie, is your doctorate in physics? Geology? Engineering? Math? Any of the hard sciences?

    Looking forward to your response.


    Mark French

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