Issue Brief

The Shale Revolution and Water Quality

Jan 31, 2018 | Daniel Raimi

Summary

The risks to water quality from hydraulic fracturing remains a prominent concern related to shale development that can be reduced through evidence-based rulemaking and sufficient enforcement.

Key Findings

  • Improper well casing and cementing can impact groundwater, with hundreds of cases in Pennsylvania alone.
  • There are very few cases where chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing have negatively affected water supplies.
  • Methane migration, or “stray gas” is more common, and can in rare cases lead to an explosive hazard.
  • Spills of oil and gas wastewater are also more common, and can occur during storage or transportation.
  • State regulators can reduce each of these risks through evidence-based rulemaking and sufficient enforcement.