Pietro Bonetti, Christian Leuz, Giovanna Michelon

The impact of unconventional oil and gas development on water quality is a major environmental concern. We built a large geocoded database that combines surface water measurements with horizontally drilled wells stimulated by hydraulic fracturing (HF) for several shales to examine whether temporal and spatial well variation is associated with anomalous salt concentrations in United States watersheds. We analyzed four ions that could indicate water impact from unconventional development. We found very small concentration increases associated with new HF wells for barium, chloride, and strontium but not bromide. All ions showed larger, but still small-in-magnitude, increases 91 to 180 days after well spudding. Our estimates were most pronounced for wells with larger amounts of produced water, wells located over high-salinity formations, and wells closer and likely upstream from water monitors.

Areas of Focus: Environment
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Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.
Environmental Health
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Environmental Health
Energy and industrial processes introduce toxins into the environment. EPIC research is helping to educate policymakers and consumers on the social and economic costs of this pollution, and the potential...
Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Fossil Fuels
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Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...