Science again: Texas wells contaminated years before fracking began

Science again: Texas wells contaminated years before fracking began

A flaming garden hose in Parker County served as a potent image in environmental activist Josh Fox’s 2012 film Gasland Part II. Fox and others have blamed fracking, an innovative oil and gas extraction technique, for polluting nearby drinking water with flammable methane.

Fracking supporters contend that such methane concentrations often appear naturally in water supplies near natural gas wells. Photos released through the legal proceedings against [defendant] Range [Resources], first made publicly available on Wednesday, could bolster their case.

The photos show a flaming water well in Parker County, about a half mile from the gas well that allegedly contaminated the water well shown in Gasland. However, the photos were taken years before Range began drilling in the area.

Another photo shows a water well with a sign that warns, “Danger: flammable gas.”

The photos are a crucial piece of evidence rebutting claims made by the environmentalists and the EPA. While the agency demonstrated the presence of methane in Parker County’s water—a claim no one disputed—it failed to prove the methane was present as a result of fracking.

“The approach used by the EPA to correlate the Lipsky gas sample to Range Resources production was fundamentally flawed,” according to a study by Texas geoscientists Alan Kornacki and Mark McCaffrey.

The EPA did “not differentiate between gas in the Barnett [shale] formation from gas in [other nearby] reservoirs.”

This is not the first time iconic images of flaming water in a Josh Fox production have come under fire.

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