BY JACK Z. SMITH

FORT WORTH — Preliminary findings from a study of hydraulic fracturing and shale-gas development show no direct link between the controversial process and groundwater contamination, the University of Texas professor who led the study said Wednesday.

Problems in shale fields appear to be related to issues such as poor casing or cementing of wells, rather than fracking, UT geology professor Charles “Chip” Groat told about 150 people at the City Club in downtown Fort Worth. The audience included oil and gas industry representatives and city officials who regulate drilling in North Texas’ Barnett Shale.

The $300,000 study is being funded by UT’s Energy Institute. Groat said a final report is expected to be issued in the next two months. The institute looked at reports of groundwater contamination in the Barnett Shale, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and East Texas, and the Marcellus Shale in the Northeastern U.S.

Groat said a major goal of the study is to “separate fact from fiction” and produce accurate information that will help government policymakers adopt wise policies and regulations that “are grounded in science.”

He said the institute also plans an in-depth “case study” of the Barnett Shale, which would include water-related issues and other environmental concerns.

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