In 2016, Professor Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment said that their analysis “…shows that these [chemical-laden fracking] fluids only account for between 4 and 8 percent of wastewater being generated over the productive lifetime of fracked wells in the major U.S. unconventional oil and gas basins,” and that “[m]ost of the fracking fluids injected into these wells do not return to the surface; they are retained in the shale deep underground.” In other words, the likelihood of “…environmental impacts from the man-made chemicals in fracking fluids is low, unless a direct spill of the chemicals occurs before the actual fracking.”
Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey stated, “We have not seen evidence of any adverse effect as a result of the use of the chemicals that are part of that fracking technology.”
On May 24, 2011, before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives, Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, testified that she was “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”
A January 2009 resolution by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission stated “The states, who regulate production, have comprehensive laws and regulations to ensure operations are safe and to protect drinking water. States have found no verified cases of groundwater contamination associated with hydraulic fracturing.”
A 2009 report by the Ground Water Protection Council, entitled “State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to Protect Water Resources”, found a “lack of evidence” that hydraulic fracturing conducted in both deep and shallow formations presents a risk of endangerment to ground water.
The Ground Water Protection Council, a national association of State water regulators that is considered to be a leading groundwater protection organization in the United States, released a report entitled “State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to Protect Water Resources” dated May 2009 finding that the “current State regulation of oil and gas activities is environmentally proactive and preventive.” Additionally, the report concluded that, “[a]ll oil and gas producing States have regulations which are designed to provide protection for water resources.”
A 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency, entitled “Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Reservoirs”, found no evidence of drinking water wells contaminated by fracture fluid from the fracked formation.
In 2017, Jennifer Harkness led a study, in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University along with Professor Avner Vengosh, of geochemistry and water quality in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and a team of scientists from Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford and the French Geological Survey, on groundwater contamination in an area of intensive shale gas development in northwestern West Virginia, which revealed that fracking was not a direct source, however accidental spills of wastewater from the fracking process did pose a threat to surface water.
In a 2017 online statement by Avner Vengosh, their study “…did find that spill water associated with fracked wells and their wastewater has an impact on the quality of streams in areas of intense shale gas development.” Additionally, “[t]he bottom-line assessment,” he said, “is that groundwater is so far not being impacted, but surface water is more readily contaminated because of the frequency of spills.”