Focal Areas

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use

Advances in horizontal and hydraulic fracturing technologies have enabled gas companies greater access to shale gas formations deep in the Earth. These technologies started the natural gas boom in 2005 and enabled industry to triple the amount of gas extraction in the United States.

Research by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions examines potential risks to water and wastewater used throughout each stage of the hydraulic fracturing process. Our studies have shown that the volume of wastewater generated from Marcellus shall wells (fracked wells) was less than wasterwater generated from conventional gas wells. We’ve also provided the first comprehensive representation of changing water consumption patterns associated with the state of Pennsylvania’s coal-to-gas transition at the sub-basin level, finding that extraction of coal and natural gas and power generation from both fuels contributed to a yearly 2.6 to 8.4 percent increase in water consumption in Pennsylvania during the early stages of the coal-to-gas transition from 2009 to 2012.