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Fracking gets an unfair rap

Environmental PoliticsU.S. Geological SurveyU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyEnergy ResourcesPetroleum IndustryBarack Obama

Del. Heather Mizeur claims that hydraulic fracturing contaminates water supplies and causes earthquakes ("No studies? No fracking," Sept. 13). Both of these claims are false.

In more than 60 years of its use, there are zero confirmed cases of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. Need more evidence? Lisa Jackson, head of President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency, recently said: "In no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater." Dozens of state regulators from across the country have said the same thing.

Why? Because billions of tons of impermeable rock separate groundwater supplies from the shale deposits. What do you think has kept oil and gas trapped down there for millions of years?

Delegate Mizeur also claims the U.S. Geological Survey found that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes. But Bill Ellsworth, a USGS geophysicist and lead author of the report that Ms. Mizeur was referencing, actually said the complete opposite. "We don't see any connection between [hydraulic fracturing] and earthquakes of any concern to society," Mr. Ellsworth has said. His conclusion was also recently affirmed by the prestigious National Research Council.

The moratorium-until-further-study line is common nowadays because it sounds reasonable. In reality, it's just a way to obscure the fact that hydraulic fracturing has been examined, studied, assessed, and closely scrutinized for decades, from university scientists to state and federal regulators, including the EPA.

Steve Everley, Washington, D.C.

The writer is a spokesman for Energy In Depth, a research and public outreach organization supported by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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