Jeff Stier’s column for Newsweek begins:

Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.

The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.

Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work?

Because, as lead researcher Amy Townsend-Small explained, “our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.

The issue reminded me of The News & Observer’s disappointment with the results of Duke researchers Robert Jackson and Avner Vengosh’s study of hydraulic fracturing. Prior to the release of the study, the editors had preemptively accused Republican state leaders of “deaf ears” and wondered aloud if they could be

counted on to do their due diligence when it comes to safety research about fracking, even to the point of changing course and acknowledging that perhaps fracking isn’t for North Carolina after all?

I have written frequently on the strengthening research consensus on the safety of hydraulic fracturing. The process is intrinsically safe. Again, well construction is the key.

On a side note, those interested in the chemicals injected during the process (99 percent of which is water and sand) are encouraged to read my Spotlight report on fracking chemicals, describing what they are, what they’re used for, and where they’re also found around the house.