Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) released a report earlier today on the safety of natural gas production in Arkansas:
"Today, I was briefed by the USGS on their study entitled, Shallow Groundwater Quality and Geochemistry in the Fayetteville Shale Gas-Production Area, North-Central Arkansas, 2011. Arkansas is an energy-rich state, and the Fayetteville Shale play has helped fuel our state's economy. Today's report concludes that there is "no indication of systemic, regional effects on shallow groundwater quality from shale-gas production.' The report is additional evidence that natural gas production is safe for our environment and communities. While we must always seek to ensure that energy development is done responsibly, this report is an "inconvenient truth' for those who seek to ban fracking."
The USGS study's conclusion was that "water quality [in the Fayetteville Shale play] is derived from natural processes with no effects from gas-production activities." [emphasis added]
The purpose of the study was to "describe general water quality and geochemistry of shallow groundwater in the Fayetteville Shale gas-production area in north-central Arkansas and evaluate the potential effects, if any, from activities related to shale-gas drilling and production." This yearlong study examined the water quality of 127 shallow domestic wells in the Fayetteville Shale play.
Two of the study's authors are hydrologists with the USGS; the remaining authors are researchers at Duke University. The report was prepared in cooperation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, Duke University, Faulkner County, Shirley Community Development Corporation, and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and the USGS Groundwater Resources Program.
The Fayetteville Shale play spans approximately 4,000 square miles and is one of the most productive shale plays in the country. It is estimated that the Fayetteville Shale contains up to 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
According to the University of Arkansas, the average annual pay in the oil and gas extraction industry in Arkansas was $74,555 in 2010, twice the average pay of all industries in the state. Further, the Fayetteville Shale play supports over 20,000 jobs and has added $12 billion to Arkansas's economy since 2008.