Studies Show No Impact to Air, Water Quality

September 3, 2017

Cambridge Daily Jeffersonian.  It has been six years since the first Ohio shale gas well went into production (June 14, 2011, in Harrison County, to be exact). Since then, nearly 2,600 Utica Shale wells have been brought into production or are in various stages of development, which has resulted in record-breaking natural gas production in the state and made the Utica one of the hottest shale plays in the country.

But what about Ohio’s environment? Based on environmentalists’ claims and the countless alarming headlines we are inundated with, one would certainly think there would be widespread impacts to air and water after six years of fracking in Ohio, right? Not according to the latest scientific studies.

There have been three Ohio-based academic studies conducted by the University of Cincinnati over the past six years researching the environmental impact on groundwater and air from natural gas extraction.

All three studies have found no evidence that natural gas extraction has led to groundwater contamination or air quality issues in Ohio exceeding EPA levels of health concern.

UC has conducted two air quality studies based on direct air measurements taken near production sites, and both found emissions were well below EPA health concern thresholds.

Another UC study took water samples throughout areas of southeastern Ohio where fracking is taking place and found “no evidence for natural gas contamination,” which is the same conclusion reached by 20-plus academic and regulatory agency studies conducted throughout the country. Notably, these UC studies were so highly thought of by the Ohio environmental community that UC announced in 2014, “UC Fracking Research Receives First-Ever Science and Community Award from Ohio Environmental Council.”

Not only do these UC studies show fracking is not harming groundwater and local air quality near production sites, there is actually evidence that increased natural gas use is improving Ohio’s overall air quality.

The Ohio EPA recently reported that air improvements in southwestern Ohio are largely attributable to major employers like Miller Coors Brewing Company and Wright Patterson Air Force base switching their fuel sources to clean burning natural gas.

As a result, this summer marked the first time in over a decade that southwestern Ohio motorists were not on the hook for a U.S. EPA- mandated use of “low Reid Vapor Pressure” gasoline, which resulted in a 12 cent-per-gallon spike in fuel costs for motorists in previous years.

These savings at the pump are just part of the overall economic windfall of record-breaking Utica Shale development, which has led to more than $50 billion in new revenue and the creation of thousands of jobs in Ohio, according to Cleveland State University.

So when skeptics ask whether we can develop oil and natural gas in Ohio while also preserving our environment, the answer is “yes,” based on the latest scientific research and the considerable evidence of Ohio’s economic boom after six years of shale development. United States energy dominance is real and it’s happening right now in the Buckeye State, where it is a win for the environment and the economy.

 By Jackie Stewart

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