Hydraulic fracking cuts water use in Texas and makes the Lone Star State less prone to drought, a study by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin has found.
The report flies in the face of criticism
that fracking, a water-intensive technique used to extract oil and natural gas, is a detriment to the environment.
In findings published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the school's Senior Research Scientist Bridget Scanlon and co-authors Ian Duncan and Robert Reedy report that "use of natural gas in power generation saves water and reduces vulnerability to drought."
Texas generates more electrical power than any other U.S. state and has been one of those hardest hit by drought conditions in recent years, according to the school.
"The bottom line is that boosting natural gas production and using more natural gas in power generation makes our electric grid more drought resilient," Scanlon said.
"Statewide, we're on track to continue reducing our water intensity of electricity generation."
In their study of the drought resilience of Texas power plants, Scanlon and her colleagues collected water use data for all 423 of the state's power plants.
While the study zeroed in on Texas, the authors said their results should be applicable to other regions of the nation where water use for key technologies is generally the same.
The Houston Chronicle reports
that Hydraulic fracturing accounts for less than one percent of the water used statewide.
Opponents of fracking this year have stepped up pressure on the White House to stop the expansion on federal land of the energy-extracting procedure.
The protests come even as the technology is moving the nation closer to a long-cherished goal of energy independence.
Americans Against Fracking, a coalition of over 200 organizations, has urged the Bureau of Land Management to ban fracking on federal lands."
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