Recently, a good friend expounded upon the supposed dangers of water pollution from hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. As an investment advisor who considers himself an environmentalist, albeit a practical environmentalist, I decided to seek out a credible study on the topic.
The Groundwater Protection Council, a non-profit organization with members consisting of state and federal environmental and water pollution officials published a White Paper in October 2012 entitled “Stray Gas Incidence and Response Forum”, a summary of presentations at a forum sponsored by the organization.
Based on this study, I believe it is not injection of water into wells that causes groundwater pollution. Rather it is the rare case of an improperly completed well bore. Even so, as the study suggests, there is no known health risk from drinking dissolved methane, only the obvious risk of explosion if large amounts escape from water in an enclosed space.
No one would be happier than I if we could get off the petroleum economy. This does not seem feasible as yet, although progress is being made on many fronts. Meanwhile, it appears to be a legitimate investment activity to include energy exploration, production and transportation as part of our client portfolios. Fracking has given America an opportunity to convert to relatively clean natural gas as its primary fuel, as well as a chance at energy independence for a few decades. Hopefully this opportunity will not be squandered and we will support more efficient use of energy and alternative sources of energy while consuming this natural resource in a conservative manner.
Our summary excerpt can be found at GROUNDWATER POLLUTION FROM HYDRAULIC FRACTURING and the full study can be accessed at: http://www.gwpc.org/sites/default/files/files/stray%20gas%20white%20paper-final(3).pdf.