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Environment


Fracking factfinders issue another report
Sometimes data leads to unexpected conclusions
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Crew on deck at on a drilling rig in Carroll County
Courtesy of TPR
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In The Region:

“We need more facts, more scientific study:” that’s what is heard in nearly every local town hall meeting and forum on fracking—the controversial drilling technology sweeping eastern Ohio with the shale gas boom.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell says some of that information is on its way.

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Collaborative efforts
Researchers from Kent State and Duke Universities have been working together analyzing reports from Marcellus Shale drilling sites throughout Pennsylvania—some with conventional wells, some that were “fracked.”  The latest paper is on waste water.  

Facts and belief
Brian Lutz, now associate professor of biochemistry at Kent, worked on it He says they found good news and bad for both advocates and opponents of fracking.  It turns out to be far more efficient in terms of waste water than conventional drilling.  “On a per-unit energy basis shale wells are producing only one third the amount of waste water when we compare them to conventional wells.”

But, because fracked wells are more effective, a lot more are drilled; making the total volume of waste water greater—even if it is less per cubit yard of gas.  And what does all this mean for the ongoing debate over fracking? [Lutz]“This is simply the information. These are tradeoffs that both the industry and environmental advocates are going to have to tangle with so that they can make informed decisions.”

Fact based 
Lutz says he and his colleagues are committed to continuing to provide facts for what he sees as a critical public decision making process
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