The Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE) at Ohio University has been awarded more than $2 million in state and federal grants to support research to clean the wastewater that results from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on site. The ISEE is a research center at OU’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
The funding is coming from the non-profit corporation Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America and the Ohio Third Frontier.
Lost property values
Property owners near shale-gas wells likely are to suffer a major loss in value because of worries over water contamination, according to economists from Duke University and the nonprofit research organization Resources for the Future. Their study found Pennsylvania homeowners who use local groundwater for drinking lost up to 24 percent of their property value if they are within a mile and a quarter of a shale-gas well.
But the news was far better for neighbors who get their water piped in. They saw values rise by nearly 11 percent, likely because of lease money from gas drillers and no worries about polluted water, the researchers found.
The study is among the first attempts to measure the impact on property owners of the shale-gas boom sweeping the nation.
It comes as the need for new regulations is being hotly debated and shale-gas critics allege people are getting sick from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process in which high-pressure water and chemicals are injected underground to free up the natural gas in shale rock.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said a water-quality problem in the Monongahela River that may have been linked to Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling is going away.
Jeanne VanBriesen said recently that preliminary data from tests this year showed that levels of salty bromides in the river have declined significantly when compared with 2010 and 2011.
In many cases, the bromides were at undetectable levels this year, and in general they returned to normal levels.
Shale gas and oil drilling pose environmental and public-health risks, but the extent of those risks is unknown, the Congressional Government Accountability Office said in new study.
The GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, reviewed existing scientific reports on shale drilling and spoke to state regulators, industry experts and environmental groups.
Regulators from Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas said state investigations found that the part of the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination, the report notes.