States wary to share data confirming pollution from drilling

After hundreds of complaints were filed about well-water contamination in four states contributing to the country's energy boom, the Associated Press found that pollution was confirmed in a number of cases.


Data on drilling-related complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Texas revealed that each state recorded the grievances in vastly different ways.

Texas offered the most comprehensive data out of the four states. In 2013, Pennsylvania received 398 complaints of pollution caused by oil or natural gas drilling compared to the 499 in 2012.

And over 100 cases of pollution were confirmed over past five years in Pennsylvania, according to AP.

Still, people who rely on well water near drilling operations are unaware of how widespread such pollution problems may be. AP faced strong pushback by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to withhold information on complaints about drilling.

Steve Forde, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the leading industry group in Pennsylvania, said in a statement that "transparency and making data available to the public is critical to getting this historic opportunity right and maintaining the public's trust," according to AP.

But Duke University scientist Rob Jackson says the number of complaints in Pennsylvania "doesn't tell you anything."

"Right or wrong, many people in the public feel like DEP is stonewalling some of these investigations," Jackson said.