Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs
Haven't there been flaming faucets for years because methane is a naturally occurring gas?
The flaming faucets documented in Gasland are the product of natural gas migration into water supplies in most cases due to fracking right next door. Numerous investigations have confirmed this fact, including studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and many others. The industry is essentially claiming a giant conspiracy theory - that these families all across the country are lying in reporting that their wells never flamed before fracking.
Further, methane and natural gas are the same thing. So when industry claims methane in drinking water supplies is "naturally occurring" it's just another smokescreen. The industry also tries to defend itself by asserting that the gas found in water supplies sometimes has a different chemical fingerprint than the gas they are going after. They distinguish between biogenic gas - found closer to the surface - and thermogenic gas - found much deeper underground. The industry is after thermogenic gas because it's been "cooked" longer and therefore has a higher energy density. But industry's drilling pierces different gas layers and allows them to mix. Failure or absence of the cement well seal allows gas from any layer to migrate into the water supply.
Additionally, Duke University recently conducted a peer-reviewed study that links water contamination with nearby drilling and fracking, concluding that water wells near drilling and fracking operations were seventeen times more likely to contain elevated levels of methane.