State Oversight Helps Reduce Effects of Fracking, Study Says

A new study conducted by the University of Buffalo has found that state regulation helped reduce environmental problems associated with unconventional forms of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania since 2008. In an analysis of 2,988 violations at nearly 4,000 Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing drill sites, university researchers found that roughly 38 percent (845 violations) were environmental in nature. Among these violations, 25 were classified as “major” — including site restoration failures, contamination of water supplies, land spills, blowouts, and venting and gas migration. As the number of drilling sites increased, the percentage of environmental violations compared to the number of wells drilled dropped from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2010, largely as a result of increased state oversight, the study said. But the total number of environmental incidents tripled from 2008 to 2011 as the number of wells increased. The report’s three lead authors have energy industry ties, but lead author John Martin said the report was funded entirely by the university.