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Thread: Hydrofracking in New York (and elsewhere)

  1. #26
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries
    After attending the recent APA Upstate NY chapter conference, a big concern that I, and other planners where I work, is the lack of unbiased, balanced information about hydrofracking. Seriously. Here in Hippie Valley, ground zero of the anti-fracking movement, hydrofracking is presented as the equivalent of a looming Bhopal. On the other side, we see lime green-highlighted propaganda depicting wildflowers, smiling families, clear skies, and a promising future. There seems to be nothing in the middle.

    Yes, I'm concerned about the short-term and long-term environmental effects, especially to drinking water. However, as a planner, I'm also concerned about ...

    * Impacts on the housing market; man camps, housing shortages, high rents and real estate prices, and the impact on long-time residents.
    * Impacts on roads, not just maintenance but also their character.
    * Well pad sites: clearing, grading, stormwater management, screening, remediation, and so on.
    * Ancillary and accessory uses: equipment storage lots, pipelines, and so on.
    * Farmland that may be taken out of production.
    * Disposal of toxic waste and contaminants.
    * Social impacts, particularly resulting from an influx of young men.
    * Hiring practices: high-paying jobs usually go to out-of-state roughnecks, engineers, managers, and so on, rather than locals.
    * Viability of hospitalityuses after the boom: hotels, restaurants, etc.

    Places that experienced this kind of boom-and-bust cycle are usually in the West and Southwest; not the Northeast. Northeastern planners tend not to look beyond the region, or even their own states, for best practices and lessons learned.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Like Dan, I have the same concerns. Face it, we need the oil even if I am not so naive as to think that oil is not a globally traded commodity, and drilling in the US does not mean that the US will be any less dependent upon imported oil. On the other hand, there is potential for environmental devastation. The source for this might be the chemicals used in fracking, contaminated aquifers, damage to cultural sites, gas seepage, or other concerns. Perhaps the biggest question, and clearest to understnad, is about the water used in fracking. Each well needs something like 2 million gallons of water - more than the weekly water demand of most of the small towns found throughout the oil fields of North Dakota and Montana. These are arid places to begin with. Can aquifers sutain pumping that rate? Can the Missouri and its tributories sustain being drawn down, without impacting navigation, wildlife, and water supplies of communities downstream? And then there is the wastewater, as a significant portion of what is forced down the well comes back up, contaminated by multiple chemicals and heavy metals. Where can this volume of wastewater be effectively treated? Do we really have the capacity to monitor the companies doing the fracking? It is a tough issue. Anybody with reason can see that the information passed around by some environmentalists and oil supporters is as tainted as a truckload of fracking wastewater. Nobody trusts the government to make balanced decisions based on scientific evidence. So where is the data and analysis people need to really make good decisions?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #28
    Oct 2012
    Wasatch Front
    I actually just finished my masters course and my thesis focused on hydraulic fracturing. When I began I was quite opposed to the entire idea, but after looking at the industry for 6 months I have sort of switched views. I'm entirely convinced it can be done safely, a stronger regulatory presence probably would have prevented past problems, but it appears the industry is doing a better job self regulating and complying with best practice today than they did 5 or 10 years ago, this is largely due to public scrutiny. I cannot lend any insight on the water impact as I study in Ireland, and thus the cases I focused were in the Irish context, and the rain here provides more than enough for the process, I can see how it could be a problem in dry climates. From what I understand the influx of jobs is relatively short term as there is originally a large number of jobs created, these then drop off as wells come online and stabilize at much smaller numbers.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    May 2005
    Metro Detroit

    Beer vs. Fracking

    I've never been a big anti-fracker, but you start messing with beer, we's got sum problems.

    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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