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Hydrofracking in New York (and elsewhere)

dandy_warhol

Cyburbian
Messages
8,867
Points
27
There is an article in the NY Times today indicating that Cuomo is proposing to limit the highly controversial hydrofracking to a "few struggling counties" along the NY-PA border. As a resident of one such county I scream, "FOUL!!!" Interestingly enough the watershed for NYC and other wealthier counties would be spared from hydrofracking. I can somewhat understand the rationale of theoretically improving the the economies of these counties but at what cost? And how can one improve the economics of the area when one's quality of life non-existent because we can no longer drink the water?

Does no one else think this is an environmental justice issue? I am scared. Part of me feels like selling and getting out now before our rivers are poisoned and no one wants to invest in a death trap. :-c8-!:-{:-@
 

beach_bum

Cyburbian
Messages
3,427
Points
20
We are going through the same thing here in NC, basically the legislature wants to allow fracking because it improves the state's economy, but it is at the cost of the local communites located on top of the shale and around it. I shudder to think of our torn up roads, influx of out of area workers and possible drinking water impacts. The shale is next to our area's main water source (scary!) and right next door to where I live and work. We are pushing for local control (site plans, standards, etc.) but not sure if the legislature cares.
 

Tide

Cyburbian
Messages
2,712
Points
21
For those of you who don't know what Fracking is by now.

[youtube]oHQu3SeUwUI[/youtube]
 

imaplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
6,671
Points
26
I'm just going to come right out with it and ask why do you hate America?


Truthfully it is pretty scary stuff.
 

btrage

Cyburbian
Messages
6,423
Points
25
I say....frack away!! Can't be any worse than what the oil industry has done.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
Natural gas drillers have been using hyrdofracking in western NYS for 30 plus years without significant environmental problems.

Would any of the opponents please explain how hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale is different than the hydrofracking that has been done for decades? I've asked this several times on different sites when this comes up, and nobody can/will give a real answer. I know they use chemicals. I know there are are waste water issues. I understand the concerns about the NYC reservoirs. Both the chemicals and the waste have NOT been a problem here in WNY. None of the minor reservoirs serving small cities and towns in this area have been affected by gas well drilling. People's private wells have also NOT been disturbed.

The hysteria over this reminds me somewhat of the hysteria several years ago about windfarms, a lot of not particularly knowledgeable people buying into the propaganda of a dedicated group of modern day Luddites with their own agenda.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,029
Points
41
I have never understood why the need to use toxic chemicals in this process. But then again, some of those same chemicals can be found in our food supply too, (which is also wrong).
 

imaplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
6,671
Points
26
Natural gas drillers have been using hyrdofracking in western NYS for 30 plus years without significant environmental problems.

Would any of the opponents please explain how hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale is different than the hydrofracking that has been done for decades? I've asked this several times on different sites when this comes up, and nobody can/will give a real answer. I know they use chemicals. I know there are are waste water issues. I understand the concerns about the NYC reservoirs. Both the chemicals and the waste have NOT been a problem here in WNY. None of the minor reservoirs serving small cities and towns in this area have been affected by gas well drilling. People's private wells have also NOT been disturbed.

The hysteria over this reminds me somewhat of the hysteria several years ago about windfarms, a lot of not particularly knowledgeable people buying into the propaganda of a dedicated group of modern day Luddites with their own agenda.
Could you expand on this a bit? My understanding is that shale fracking has only been occuring since about the late 90's, and that the recent increase in shale fracking over the last few years has been due to technology allowing them to frack UNDER aquifers leading to much of the concern- combined with the fact that since about 2004 or so fracking companies have not had to disclose the materials they inject to the EPA.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,189
Points
30
I have never understood why the need to use toxic chemicals in this process. But then again, some of those same chemicals can be found in our food supply too, (which is also wrong).
There is a reason the human body is cosidered toxic waste.:-c8-!:-{:not:
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
Could you expand on this a bit? My understanding is that shale fracking has only been occuring since about the late 90's, and that the recent increase in shale fracking over the last few years has been due to technology allowing them to frack UNDER aquifers leading to much of the concern- combined with the fact that since about 2004 or so fracking companies have not had to disclose the materials they inject to the EPA.
I'm not sure what the difference is, but my brothers and I have three natural gas wells completely or partially under our property in Cattaraugus County, NY. There are gas wells up and down our road. The oldest of these wells date from the 1980s while the newest ones have been drilled in the last 5 or 6 years. Most of the wells have been fracked: the drillers shot them full of water (and possibly chemicals) to release the gas from the rock formations which are mostly limestone and sandstone I think.

It may be that there's more to fracking the Marcellus shale formation. I think that perhaps they might drill deeper. Maybe they use chemicals in Marcellus shale, and the previous fracking process just used water. I really don't know, either, but I know that it's been a common practice that didn't cause problems. Nobody has yet explained how it's different from what went before, and that includes the articles that people use to support their opposition to fracking.
 

mgk920

Cyburbian
Messages
4,202
Points
26
The 'fracking' process is also becoming important to Wisconsin's economy - several major fracking sand mines are being developed in the northwestern part of the state, most within about a 30 minute or so radius of Rice Lake, WI. It is such that, although I have no article links handy, Canadian National is right now investing about $35M of their own money to restore a mothballed light branch line (it runs from their mainline at Ladysmith to Barron, WI) to service to handle the expected HEAVY sand trains.

Mike
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,175
Points
51
Moderator note:
I'd like to move this to the Environmental Planning forum, but we'll need a new title.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,175
Points
51
Map of communities in New York State with anti-fracking bans in place or being considered. Source: http://www.fractracker.org/. The community where I work is located at ground zero of the anti-fracking movement, and we have a ban in place.

 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
930
Points
19
We're working on a symbolic resolution urging DEC to reconsider, even though we are way downstate and well outside the Shale area.
 

Tide

Cyburbian
Messages
2,712
Points
21
I like to think that I'm well read and learned on the hydrofracturing issues. I have done tons of research and sat through some presentations. I truly believe if done "correctly" fracking is safe. After a recent symposium with Dr. Ron Jackson of Duke (https://fds.duke.edu/db/aas/Biology/faculty/jackson/) who has studied methane and ground water throughout Pennsylvania in direct response to fracking, I believe too many fracking jobs are going on and getting rushed too fast. The process shouldn't be rushed. Concrete needs adequate time to cure and casings need to be installed correctly. When these two pieces get rushed there tends to be stray gas problems. I believe the states and locals need a larger hand in the permitting of where, such as no fracking wells within 2500 ft of a private water supply etc. but inspections and time tables for when each piece of the process of fracking is done could allow for more concrete curing and more time to install casings correctly. This would alleviate nearly all the potential contamination problems from the drilling and frackign process. It does not, however, address the surface water contamination potential from the millions of gallons needed to frack a well, but there are known safeguards that can be in place and have been used for years for traditional drilling.
 

ColoGI

Cyburbian
Messages
2,568
Points
17
I believe too many fracking jobs are going on and getting rushed too fast. The process shouldn't be rushed. Concrete needs adequate time to cure and casings need to be installed correctly. When these two pieces get rushed there tends to be stray gas problems. .
Profits for Koch et al. are, of course, more important than your petty, anti-capitalist (and likely socialist) communitarian concerns. ;o)
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
I like to think that I'm well read and learned on the hydrofracturing issues. I have done tons of research and sat through some presentations. I truly believe if done "correctly" fracking is safe. After a recent symposium with Dr. Ron Jackson of Duke (https://fds.duke.edu/db/aas/Biology/faculty/jackson/) who has studied methane and ground water throughout Pennsylvania in direct response to fracking, I believe too many fracking jobs are going on and getting rushed too fast. The process shouldn't be rushed. Concrete needs adequate time to cure and casings need to be installed correctly. When these two pieces get rushed there tends to be stray gas problems. I believe the states and locals need a larger hand in the permitting of where, such as no fracking wells within 2500 ft of a private water supply etc. but inspections and time tables for when each piece of the process of fracking is done could allow for more concrete curing and more time to install casings correctly. This would alleviate nearly all the potential contamination problems from the drilling and frackign process. It does not, however, address the surface water contamination potential from the millions of gallons needed to frack a well, but there are known safeguards that can be in place and have been used for years for traditional drilling.
PA seems very lax in environmental regulation compared to New York and most other states in the region IMO. I think it may be a hold-over attitude from the days when big coal mining and timber harvesting companies had so much influence in the state, but it seems that most Pennsylvanians in the northwestern part of the state have no problem with letting landowners do whatever they want to their property until it messes up their own wells or a mountainside crashes down on their own homes. That attitude is one of the reasons I have never considered moving there even though I only live 10 miles from the state line, and it would probably make sense tax-wise.
 

wahday

Cyburbian
Messages
3,960
Points
22
This is new notice given to a very old practice. Here is a hydrofracking patent given to my LONG-DEAD father-in-law in 1954:

http://www.google.com/patents/US2827121?printsec=abstract&dq="theodore+j.+nowak"&ei=r_QSUNiBIqWVjALR4YHgCA#v=onepage&q="theodore j. nowak"&f=false
The first use of fracking was indeed in 1949, but the strategy, techniques and technology was different than it is today. Wider use of fracking didn't begin until the mid-1970s. Up to the early 2000s, most fracking was on vertical gas wells with only one or two fracks. With commercialization of the Barnett Shale in Texas, horizontal drilling was used for the first time on a wide scale and pumping pressures and operating times increased.

Fracking boomed after the Energy Policy Act in 2005 exempted it from compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air and the Clean Water Act. Also, the CERCLA Superfund Act doesn't cover fracking sites.
 

Linda_D

Cyburbian
Messages
1,725
Points
19
The first use of fracking was indeed in 1949, but the strategy, techniques and technology was different than it is today. Wider use of fracking didn't begin until the mid-1970s. Up to the early 2000s, most fracking was on vertical gas wells with only one or two fracks. With commercialization of the Barnett Shale in Texas, horizontal drilling was used for the first time on a wide scale and pumping pressures and operating times increased.

Fracking boomed after the Energy Policy Act in 2005 exempted it from compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air and the Clean Water Act. Also, the CERCLA Superfund Act doesn't cover fracking sites.
Thanks, Wahday. This is the first time that someone in one of these non-technical discussions has explained the difference between the "old style" fracking and the new.
 

Tide

Cyburbian
Messages
2,712
Points
21
PA seems very lax in environmental regulation compared to New York and most other states in the region IMO. I think it may be a hold-over attitude from the days when big coal mining and timber harvesting companies had so much influence in the state, but it seems that most Pennsylvanians in the northwestern part of the state have no problem with letting landowners do whatever they want to their property until it messes up their own wells or a mountainside crashes down on their own homes. That attitude is one of the reasons I have never considered moving there even though I only live 10 miles from the state line, and it would probably make sense tax-wise.
Just for the record this year PA tightened up their state fracking regulations a ton. They doubled most distances from private and public water sources. Increased bonding ten fold, and put in requirements to gain no fault clearance (which contains notification and well testing prior and post drilling).
 

wahday

Cyburbian
Messages
3,960
Points
22
Thanks, Wahday. This is the first time that someone in one of these non-technical discussions has explained the difference between the "old style" fracking and the new.
Yeah, well, oil runs in my veins. My grandfather worked for Standard Oil which developed the Hydrafrac process, a specific hydraulic fracturing technique. I actually remember as a kid him explaining to me this innovation and how it set Standard apart from its competitors at the time. I only remember it because I thought the term "hydrafrac" sounded pretty cool. My other grandfather also worked for the oil industry with Phillips 66. My father was even born in Venezuela because his father was working there with Standard. WWII brought them back to the states.
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
The same new law Tide mentioned in PA that tightened some regulations also contained some horrendous clauses that, among other things, exempted natural gas drillers from all state and local zoning restrictions--driling permitted anywhere--and municipal regulation; a state appellate court last week threw out that clause as a violation of the state constitution, for infringing on local gov's constitutional mandates/powers. Also, there have been plenty of reports of homeowners discovering the hard way that the fine print of their contracts with drillers (buried in legalese) not only allows the drillers to drill anywhere on the property, even right next to the house, but the landowners have unknowingly signed away all right to control where drilling or other activities are done, all rights to sue, and any right to cancel or amend the contract w/o the driller's consent, while the driller can renew the contract unilaterally. I'd have to dig into some newspaper archives to provide details/sources. (Try Lancaster Sunday News or Philadelphia Inquirer from 2010-2012 if you want to look yourselves).
The zoning exemptions and one-sided contract clauses (and the federal exemptions from environmental laws) are what concern me almost more than the chemicals--both smack of one law for the big company and another law for regular folks. I know, I know, everyone needs to read a contract and make sure they understand it all before signing. Caveat emptor, etc. But it's dangerously easy to slip things by people with dense, tricky jargon and a bit of sales pressure, and I think certain rights (legal recourse in case of dispute), in serious circumstances that can ruin your home, life, etc, should not be waivable. No one should be able/allowed to require you to sign away major rights as a condition of doing business, and a contract that does so should not be valid/enforceable in court. After all, courts are an arm of government, and every act of theirs is bound by federal and state constitutions (in the US), and in the end a contract's validity depends on it being enforceable by a court when one or more parties involved cease to agree or keep their word. But I'm digressing way off topic now, so I'll just wrap this up.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,175
Points
51
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.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
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?
 

Tay-j

Cyburbian
Messages
45
Points
2
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.
 

Richmond Jake

Cyburbian
Messages
18,206
Points
41
Our commission is poised to adopt a resolution in opposition to a bill in the Florida legislature that would, among other things, preempt local governments from enacting ordinances to regulate hydraulic fracturing. We're considering taking a pro-active move and prepare amendments to our comp plan and land development regulations to prohibit hydraulic fracturing. Anybody have some language I can "barrow" or point me to some resources? Thanks in advance.
 

Richmond Jake

Cyburbian
Messages
18,206
Points
41
In a couple of days, here's what we've come up with:

Objective 6.22: Protect surface- and ground-water resources, air quality, soils, flora and fauna, and public health, safety, and welfare from contaminates associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Policy 6.22.1: Prohibit hydraulic fracturing in all land use categories. Hydraulic fracturing is the process which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are forced open and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure and typically used to extract natural gas or oil.

Policy 6.22.2: Oppose any bill introduced into the Florida Legislature that would, in any manner, limit, restrict, or preempt local governments from regulating hydraulic fracturing.
Be brutally honest with your comments. Thanks.
 

Richmond Jake

Cyburbian
Messages
18,206
Points
41
Here's our last draft.

To the Comp Plan:

Policy 3.3.2: Hydraulic fracturing is a prohibited use in all land use categories listed in Tables 3A and 12A of this Plan. Hydraulic fracturing is the process which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are forced open and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure and typically used to extract natural gas or oil.

Objective 6.22: Protect surface- and ground-water resources, air quality, soils, flora and fauna, and public health, safety, and welfare from contaminates associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Policy 6.22.1: Prohibit hydraulic fracturing in all land use categories listed in Tables 3A and 12A of this Plan. Hydraulic fracturing is the process which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are forced open and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure and typically used to extract natural gas or oil.

Policy 6.22.2: Oppose any bill introduced into the Florida Legislature that would, in any manner, limit, restrict, or preempt local governments from regulating hydraulic fracturing.


Land Development Regulations

SECTION 311. Hydraulic Fracturing Uses. This Code intends to protect surface- and ground-water resources, air quality, soils, flora and fauna, and public health, safety, and welfare from contaminates associated with hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is also known by the common term “fracking.” To that end, hydraulic fracturing is a prohibited use in all zone districts in unincorporated Bay County. For the purposes of this Code, hydraulic fracturing is defined as the process which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are forced open and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure and typically used to extract natural gas or oil.

SECTION 3508. Hydraulic Fracturing. It is the intent of this Commission to protect surface- and ground-water resources, air quality, soils, flora and fauna, and public health, safety, and welfare from contaminates associated with hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is also known by the common term “fracking.” To that end, hydraulic fracturing is a prohibited use in all zone districts in unincorporated Bay County. For the purposes of this Code, hydraulic fracturing is defined as the process which fractures in rocks below the earth's surface are forced open and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure and typically used to extract natural gas or oil.
The Man does not like Policy 6.22.2. I don't care.
 

Richmond Jake

Cyburbian
Messages
18,206
Points
41
Yesterday our Board approved a text amendment to our comp plan that I wrote to prohibit fracking in all land use categories. The amendment now goes to the state planning agency for analysis. I don't expect any objection from them. In the mean time, our legislative lunatics are considering a bill that would retro-actively preempt local government from regulating fracking. (How's that for home rule?) Our board has literally said "hell no" to fracking. We'll see how this plays out.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
21
..., our legislative lunatics are considering a bill that would retro-actively preempt local government from regulating fracking. (How's that for home rule?) Our board has literally said "hell no" to fracking. We'll see how this plays out.
Way to go, Florida legislature! That's messed up!
 
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