Tag: Public Herald

Md. Take Note: PA’s Fracking Water Contamination Complaints Jump to 40 Percent

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Can you imagine drinking this well water? Homeowner lives in the Woodland’s community north of Pittsburgh. Claims fracking ruined water. DEP claims fracking did not. Photo courtesy: Dr. John Stolz and Public Herald.

Guess what was found in Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) filing cabinets after gas operators drilled 10,027 fracking wells over the last 12 years? Only 9,942 citizen-reported fracking complaints. And forty-four percent of those are drinking water-related. Pennsylvania’s DEP finally released the complaints to Public Herald, an investigative journalism nonprofit. There’s much to learn from Pennsylvania’s now-public 9,942 fracking complaints as legislators decide to frack or not to frack in Western Maryland.

Md. Take Note: PA Fracking Water Contamination Higher Than Reported

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Fracking well pads are six acre plus industrial zones that concentrate many gas wells on one central well pad location.
Fracking well pads are six-acre plus industrial zones that concentrate many gas wells on one location.

The headline flew around the globe like wild fire.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published their long-awaited draft fracking drinking water study and concluded: fracking has had no widespread impact on drinking water. But if you’ve had your ear to the ground in fracking communities, something didn’t sit right with the EPA’s takeaway. Though the gas industry claims fracking is safe and doesn’t harm drinking water, that story doesn’t match what many landowners report from the fracking fields.

At least in Pennsylvania, the reason for this discrepancy comes down to a singular issue: mismanaged record-keeping and reporting by the Department of the Environment (DEP). Based on 2,309 previously unreported fracking complaints unearthed by the non-profit Public Herald, the public can now peek into 1,275 fracking water complaints from 17 of 40 fracking counties. However, Pennsylvania’s official tally of water contamination is only 271 for all 40 counties.

Contrary to the EPA fracking study’s conclusion, the prevalence of drinking water contamination appears to be much higher than previously reported.  Accurate drinking water complaint data is vital to know as Maryland drafts new fracking regulations to potentially welcome the natural gas industry into Western Maryland in 2017.

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