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Fracking Kerfuffle Debunked (Yes, those are real words)

Ultra Petroleum

The EPA has finally ruled on whether fracking harms ground water and their answer is “No” it does not.

This should be very good for some of our energy investments – just look at the chart of Ultra Petroleum above.

Many people saw the documentary Gasland that started the whole controversy, and put downward pressure on the prices of many domestic energy companies who were perceived to be harming the ground water with their energy production.

The EPA got involved and analyzed the situation, performed tests and issued a report (see below) that showed the problems in the Pennsylvania community featured in the movie are not caused by fracking.

Fracking is a process where natural gas is extracted from shale beds by pressurized water being used to fracture the shale beds. You can find a video on YouTube about fracking in North Dakota here. Obviously it will be a bit biased given its source, but you’ll get a sense of what fracking is about if you want further information.

Here is the reprint of the EPA report ( or you can go to their website here to see the original):

EPA Completes Drinking Water Sampling in Dimock, Pa.

Release Date: 07/25/2012
Contact Information: Terri White (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA (July 25, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has completed its sampling of private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pa. Data previously supplied to the agency by residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot Oil and Gas Exploration had indicated the potential for elevated levels of water contaminants in wells, and following requests by residents EPA took steps to sample water in the area to ensure there were not elevated levels of contaminants. Based on the outcome of that sampling, EPA has determined that there are not levels of contaminants present that would require additional action by the Agency.

“Our goal was to provide the Dimock community with complete and reliable information about the presence of contaminants in their drinking water and to determine whether further action was warranted to protect public health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action. Throughout EPA’s work in Dimock, the Agency has used the best available scientific data to provide clarity to Dimock residents and address their concerns about the safety of their drinking water.”

EPA visited Dimock, Pa. in late 2011, surveyed residents regarding their private wells and reviewed hundreds of pages of drinking water data supplied to the agency by Dimock residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot. Because data for some homes showed elevated contaminant levels and several residents expressed concern about their drinking water, EPA determined that well sampling was necessary to gather additional data and evaluate whether residents had access to safe drinking water.

Between January and June 2012, EPA sampled private drinking water wells serving 64 homes, including two rounds of sampling at four wells where EPA was delivering temporary water supplies as a precautionary step in response to prior data indicating the well water contained levels of contaminants that pose a health concern. At one of those wells EPA did find an elevated level of manganese in untreated well water. The two residences serviced by the well each have water treatment systems that can reduce manganese to levels that do not present a health concern.

As a result of the two rounds of sampling at these four wells, EPA has determined that it is no longer necessary to provide residents with alternative water. EPA is working with residents on the schedule to disconnect the alternate water sources provided by EPA.

Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap. EPA has provided the residents with all of their sampling results and has no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.

Whatever your feelings on this issue, whether you believe the EPA or not (and I’ll bet you that many of the folks in that Pennsylvania community do not believe them,) this is definitely good news for domestic energy production and domestic energy independence….and the companies, like UPL, that produce energy domestically.