Over the past couple of years, the number of studies related to
the alleged environmental impact from hydraulic fracturing have
increased dramatically. In fact, some of these studies have
contradicted each other. That said, lately, multiple studies have
concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not have the detrimental
impact on the environment that several environmental groups have
alleged. The latest study to examine hydraulic fracturing has
concluded that fracking does not cause methane contamination of
drinking water in Pennsylvania.
The study concluded that the methane present in drinking water did
not result from hydraulic fracturing operations in the area. This
latest report studied over 11,300 drinking water wells in
Pennsylvania. This study was led by Donald Siegel, a hydrogeologist
at Syracuse University. Siegel noted that in rare instances poorly
constructed wells permit the transfer of methane to drinking water;
however, he stressed that this was the result of poor construction,
not hydraulic fracturing in general.
Siegel's study casts doubt upon two earlier studies that
suggested that there was a connection between the methane content
in drinking water and hydraulic fracturing. Notably, one of these
studies only examined 60 wells and the other 141 wells. According
to Siegel, these prior studies erred by selecting wells known to
have structural problems. In fact, the prior studies acknowledged
that the primary culprit for methane contamination is poorly
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There is often debate during negotiations for joint venture and services agreements about the scope of the exclusion clause. Should liability include or be limited to "gross negligence", "wilful misconduct", or both? In addition to the differing levels of immunity that can be chosen, the parties can manage the likelihood of protracted litigation by clearly defining the chosen liability firewall. Through the use of contractual definitions for these terms, liability clauses provide a mechanism to
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