OSU study of working well should include safeguards
Although federal officials recently gave hydraulic fracturing at gas and oil wells a clean bill of health, much more remains to be learned about the practice. Researchers at Ohio State University want to study a working well, but money seems to be a problem.
It is not, for a change, too little money but, strangely enough, too much.
OSU wants to open its agricultural research station in Noble County to drilling, with the provision any wells there can be monitored by university scientists. That would require leasing mineral rights to the land for commercial drilling.
Some environmentalists complain such a study would have a built-in bias – revenue from the well or wells. Should concerns about drilling be raised by the study, OSU would lose money by calling a halt to the process, critics say.
Much the same complaint has been heard about a similar plan by the University of Tennessee – and there is some validity to it.
Nevertheless, OSU should proceed with its proposal, perhaps with some safeguards. One might be to involve outside scientists, perhaps from the federal government, to be part of the research. That would provide protection against pressure from OSU officials to avoid conclusions that threaten the university’s revenue.
More needs to be learned about the oil and gas drilling process. OSU should take the opportunity to study working wells.