Thursday, June 30, 2011

NYSDEC releases New Recommendations for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

Some good recommendations & some strange recommendations
lawsuits are in the horizon
The people who will benefit the most from this are the attorneys

For Release: Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Recommendations Issued in Hydraulic Fracturing Review

  • In Reversal of 2009 Report, High-Volume Fracturing Would be Prohibited in NYC and Syracuse Watersheds
  • Drilling Banned Within All Primary Aquifers and on State-Owned Land Including State Forest and Wildlife Management Areas
  • Drilling Permitted on Other Private Land with Rigorous and Effective Protections
  • Advisory Panel on Implementation to Be Appointed
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tomorrow will release its revised recommendations on mitigating the environmental impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (high-volume fracturing). The recommendations contain these major revisions:
  • High-volume fracturing would be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, including a buffer zone;
  • Drilling would be prohibited within primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries;
  • Surface drilling would be prohibited on state-owned land including parks, forest areas and wildlife management areas;
  • High-volume fracturing will be permitted on privately held lands under rigorous and effective controls; and
  • DEC will issue regulations to codify these recommendations into state law.
These recommendations, if adopted in final form, would protect the state's environmentally sensitive areas while realizing the economic development and energy benefits of the state's natural gas resources. Approximately 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale would be accessible to natural gas extraction under these recommendations.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said, "This report strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development."
The ban on high-volume fracturing in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds represents a reversal of the Department's 2009 draft report, which would have permitted drilling in those watersheds. The New York and Syracuse watersheds are unique in that they are the only unfiltered supplies of municipal water in the state and deserve special protection. The prior report also would have allowed high-volume fracturing surface drilling in primary aquifers and on public forests, wildlife areas and parkland; the 2011 report reverses all of these recommendations.
There will be more opportunity for review and comment on the Department's recommendations. DEC plans for a 60-day public comment period commencing in August. There is no administrative or discretionary moratorium on high-volume fracturing. By law, no permits may be issued until the public comments are reviewed and considered and the final Supplement Generic Environmental Impact Statement is released.
DEC enforcement and oversight of high-volume fracturing will be rigorous and effective. No permits will be issued until DEC has the proper enforcement capacity in place to monitor all fracturing activities.
In preparing the new recommendations, DEC engaged independent consultants to perform research, sought further information from the gas drilling industry, considered more than 13,000 public comments and studied other states' regulations and experience, including site visits by Commissioner Martens and DEC officials to Pennsylvania incident sites. Since September 2009, DEC staff has spent approximately 10,250 hours updating the document. The 2011 version contains more than 900 pages, including more than 150 additional pages of data and analysis compared to the 2009 version.

The Department's extensive review has resulted in recommendations for rigorous and effective controls on high-volume fracturing on private lands. These state-of-the-art controls include such permitting rules as:

Protecting Drinking Water

  • Well water protection and other water protection: No permits would be issued for sites within 500 feet of a private water well or domestic use spring. No permits may be issued for a proposed site within 2,000 feet of a public drinking water supply well or reservoir at least until three years of experience elsewhere have been evaluated. No permits will be issued for well pads sited within a 100-year floodplain.
  • Additional Well Casing to Prevent Gas Migration: In most cases, an additional third, cemented well casing is required around each well to prevent the migration of gas. The three required casings are the surface casing, the new intermediate casing and the production casing. The depths of both surface and intermediate casings will be determined by site-specific conditions.
  • Spill control: All new guidelines will require that flowback water on site must use watertight tanks within a secondary containment. No open containment may be used. A secondary containment will also be required for all fracturing additive containers, additive staging areas and flowback tanks to ensure any spills of wastewater or chemicals at the well pad do not migrate into water supplies.
  • Stormwater Control: New permit process requiring strict stormwater control measures to prevent stormwater from contaminating water resources.
  • Regulating Water Withdrawals:
    • New Legislation: Pursuant to the Governor's signing of DEC's Water Withdrawal legislation, which the State Legislature recently passed, a special permit will be required to withdraw large volumes of water for industrial and commercial purposes to ensure there are not adverse impacts.
    • Permit Condition: All withdrawals from surface water bodies will be subject to limits to prevent impacts upon ecosystems and other water quantity requirements. Identification of the water source an applicant intends to use will be required and an annual report must be issued on the aggregate amount of water it has withdrawn or purchased.

Properly Handling Flowback Water:

Since the 2009 SGEIS, many drilling companies have started to recycle much of the flowback water, greatly reducing the need for disposal.
  • Flowback Water Disposal: Applicants must have DEC-approved plans for disposing of flowback water and production brine.
  • Drilling & Production Waste Tracking: DEC would institute a process to monitor disposal of flowback water, production brine, drill cuttings and other drilling waste streams that is similar to the handling of medical waste.
  • Water Treatment Facilities: Requires full analysis and approvals under existing state and federal water laws and regulations, which must be completed before a water treatment facility could accept flowback water. This would include a treatment capacity analysis for any publicly operated treatment works facility (POTW) and a contingency plan if the primary disposal for wastewater is a POTW.

Taking Local Governments & Communities into Account:

  • Local Government Notification: DEC would notify local governments of each well permit application for high-volume fracturing.
  • Local Land Use & Zoning: Applicant must certify that a proposed activity is consistent with local land use and zoning laws. Failure to certify or a challenge by a locality would trigger additional DEC review before a permit could be issued.

Identifying Fracturing Fluid Chemicals:

  • Chemical Identification: The 2011 SGEIS identifies 322 chemicals proposed for use in New York and includes health hazard information for each as identified by the NYS Department of Health. Applicants must fully disclose to DEC all products utilized in the high-volume fracturing process. In addition, applicants must agree to publicly disclose the names of the additives, subject to appropriate protections for proprietary information.
  • Chemical Alternatives: Operators will be required to evaluate using alternative additives that pose less potential risk.

Protecting the Air:

  • Air Quality: Requires enhanced air pollution controls on engines used at well pads. DEC will monitor local and regional air quality at well pads and surrounding areas.
  • Greenhouse Gas Impact: Requires use of existing pipelines when available rather than flaring gas.

Conserving Habitats:

  • Private Forestland: Disturbing the surface of the land is strictly restricted in forests of 150 acres or more by requiring applicants to comply with best management practices.
  • Private Grasslands: Disturbing the surface of the land is strictly restricted in grasslands of 30 acres or more by requiring applicants to comply with best management practices.

Making Sure We Get It Right - Community Impacts Still Under Study:

The 2009 SGEIS did not adequately consider the community and socioeconomic impacts of high-volume fracturing. To address this deficiency, DEC has engaged independent consultants to thoroughly research these types of effects.
Specifically, researchers are examining both baseline data and the potential effects of development in the areas of:
  • Socioeconomic conditions including positive and negative impacts;
  • Transportation infrastructure, current road use and the impacts of increased traffic; and
  • Visual and noise impacts.
DEC expects the research to be completed by July 31, 2011. This research will be considered and reflected in the final draft of the report.

Appointment of Advisory Panel to Develop Implementation Plan:

Upon final adoption of the permitting standards, the Department will implement a system of oversight, monitoring and enforcement. The successful implementation of high-volume fracturing policy will also require close consultation with local governments and communities.
Commissioner Martens will announce the formation of the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, which will be composed of outside environmental and industry experts, and local government representatives. The Panel will be charged with developing recommendations for:
  • funding to ensure the proper oversight, monitoring and enforcement of mitigation measures, including both state and county agencies responsible for drilling activities and reviewing water sampling data;
  • measures to minimize socioeconomic and other impacts on local governments and communities;
  • a fee structure for drilling development; and
  • a mechanism for the funding of infrastructure improvements.
The complete 2011 SGEIS will be available on DEC's website on July 8.

NYTimes Today: Cuomo Will Seek to Lift Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

The Cuomo administration is seeking to lift what has been, in effect, a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technology used to extract natural gas from shale, state environmental regulators said Thursday.

Drilling Down

A Times series examining the risks of natural gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry.
Administration officials are proposing to ban the process inside New York City’s sprawling upstate watershed, as well as a watershed used by Syracuse, as well as underground water sources used by other cities and towns. By allowing the process in other parts of the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would open up New York to one of the fastest-growing — critics would say reckless — areas of the energy industry.

Read More:

What? Natural Gas without Hydraulic Fracturing?

One of the biggest arguments by opponents of natural gas development  has always been about hydraulic fracturing and water; "too much water" and "too high a risk to drinking water" since water is featured well drilling, well stimulation and in the disposal of the spent water.
Would the process of obtaining natural gas be more favorable if it did not use chemicals? How about if the process used a “greener” technology? Luca Technology yesterday filed an S-1; they are going public. This Colorado based company has developed a process where naturally occurring coal digesting microbes along with water and nutrients are injected into coal beds. The bacteria essentially consume the coal and produce “biogenic” methane. What this does is “grow” gas from depleted coal bed reservoirs thus leading to a new term "natural gas farming."
One would think that this process would be a welcome change. However, the environmental activists have weighed in. They argue that the process still has the ability to impact the drinking water aquifers. 
Natural gas development naysayers need to start putting out ideas and stop acting as road blocks to those who are trying to move forward. Change is inevitable, become a part of the change by contributing useful solutions. Change always brings new challenges and obstacles; it is all about overcoming the challenges and obstacles. Our energy problem needs a solution. A typical naysayer really doesn’t know how to respond to challenges because they choose not to be solution driven but instead focus on the problems and never move past the problem.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NYT Urbina latest on the Democrats Response to his Series

Its really looking like Ian Urbina and others opposed to natural gas development are way way past writing balanced articles.
His latest NYT article Lawmakers Seek Inquiry of Natural Gas Industry has a title that gives the impression that both sides of the aisle are up in arms over what he reported previously. However, when you read it, count how many times the word Democrat appears.
Listening to the Diane Rehm show yesterday, the sheer lack of information that was presented was astounding. John Hanger was left trying to balance the conversation after bad information after bad information was shared to which Diane cut him off and spoke over him.
Sadly, it is ALL about politics, fear and self serving agendas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

John Hanger Responds to NYT Urbina's latest article

According to John Hanger:

Reader beware.  This reporter puts sensationalism ahead of fairness or truth. Pennsylvania's drinking waters are not poisoned with radionuclides, as substantial testing has verified, and the reading public should drink from this journalistic cup with great caution.

Could anyone imagine more sensationalistic narratives than Radiation, Ponzi, and Enron?

Consistent with this reporter's method, today's article uses often anonymous statements to paint a sensational narrative and leaves out or underplays critical information that is inconvenient to establishing the credibility of the dominant anti-gas narrative.

For example, the reader will not learn the following:

1. That 2010 natural gas production in the United States reached the highest levels since 1973 and neared record levels.  Nor will the reader be told that the US produces more natural gas than any nation.
To read more.....

Monday, June 27, 2011

EIDs response to NYTs Latest Article

NYT’s “Dewey-Defeats-Truman” Moment on Shale?

The United States produced more natural gas in 2010 than at any point in the previous 37 years, a stunning reversal of fortune given the country’s supply picture earlier this decade, and one that could not have been possible without massive volumes of American energy that continue to be generated from shale.
So what happens from here? By now, you’ve likely heard the stories and seen the estimates: with everyone from IEA to EIA to PGC to MIT projecting a future in which shale’s production trajectory continues along an aggressive upward path, delivering literally quadrillions of cubic feet of clean-burning natural gas to generations of consumers not only in the United States, but around the world. It’s a view that’s supported by the preponderance of science and a majority of scientists, not to mention one that’s continuously reinforced by new data.
Over the weekend, The New York Times sought to advance a contrarian view on the subject, and to that view The Times is more than entitled. What it’s not entitled to, at least in our view, is to represent its piece as an original investigation; not when the story was essentially outsourced to a well-known critic of the industry whose predictions on shale’s imminent collapse grow less defensible (and more difficult to find on his website) by the day. Nor do we believe The Times is entitled to mislead its readers on the expertise of those whose “leaked” emails — many written in 2008 and 2009 – are used to form the basis of the story, especially when real-world production numbers from 2010 and 2011 directly contradict those accounts.
Against that backdrop, we attempt below (after the jump!) to pull back the curtain a bit on some of the tricks employed by The Times’ in executing its latest front-page assault on responsible natural gas development:
Read More here-

Student Article on the Impact of Marcellus to Small Towns

As you know I am big BIG advocate for proactive thinking. I have been spending my down time looking for ways for small communities to prepare for the Marcellus Shale Development. I found this article and it offered an interesting insight into a few people's lives that are living the drilling boom.

Small town scrambles to adapt to Marcellus Shale drilling boom
By Caitlin Burnham
Wellsboro, a community of nearly 3,250, is a place where Boy Scouts walk door to door and sing jingles to sell popcorn, where the whole town turns out for the high school's homecoming parade -- and where, since 2008, huge trucks carrying hundreds of gallons of water have clogged the narrow roads around Marcellus Shale drilling sites.
The groaning of these trucks drowns out a church bell marking the hour, and the traffic looks strange against the small-town backdrop and the quaint black street lamps on Main Street. These massive trucks are a sign of a massive change - the extraction of natural gas from a geological formation nearly a mile below the surface.
Tioga County, where Wellsboro is located, saw 42 wells drilled in 2009 by the largest drilling company in the area, East/Shell Appalachia. The company expects to sink an additional 200 wells this year.
Natural gas extraction is occurring all over the country, but the rugged northern tier, including Tioga County, is at the epicenter of Pennsylvania's drilling.
This boom in natural resource extraction is nothing new to Pennsylvania. From oil to coal, Pennsylvania has been the home of resources much in demand. However, the size and scale of Marcellus Shale drilling has never been seen before, said Kathy Brasier, an assistant professor of rural psychology at Penn State.
"The scale of the Marcellus, both in terms of what it takes to develop a particular well and the number of wells they're doing in a particular region all at once -- it's unprecedented," Brasier said. "It's just so different, the number of workers it takes for a single well, the amount of truck traffic, the materials, all of the stuff that goes with it."
Natural gas drilling is taking place in some areas like Tioga County, where 12.6 percent of families live in poverty, and it is lifting some of the people of these towns into newfound prosperity through leasing of property, royalties from drilling, and increased business in hotels, restaurants and shops. Over the years, many towns that popped up around oil and coal mining areas became ghost towns or near-ghost towns after the resources dried up. And sociologists are studying ways to prevent the same thing from happening after the natural gas is gone.
Brasier described a Penn State Cooperative Extension pilot program being developed called Marcellus and Beyond, which will try to get community leaders to look at drilling as a way to help diversify their economy and invest in education and public resources such as parks.
"We're trying to help communities think about this as a blip -- a huge blip, no doubt -- but as a blip within their history of multiple types of economic development and how they can use this as a means to improve their future," Brasier said.
Some people in Wellsboro have already begun planning. Like it or not, the introduction of Marcellus Shale drilling will mean changes. Here is a glimpse of those who have already experienced change.
* * * * * *

To Read More:,2820?content_source=&category_id=34&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=

News.. and more from the NYT

Article by Tom Zeller from the Huffington Post 6/27/2011
Nine members of Congress, including several representatives of powerful national security committees, have prepared a letter imploring President Obama to press for expanded natural gas exploration and production in the United States -- primarily though the use of an unconventional and contentious technique known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Articles by Ian Urbina in the NYTimes from the weekend;
By IAN URBINA June 26, 2011; Energy companies have worked hard to promote natural gas as the fossil fuel of tomorrow, and they have found reliable allies in Washington. But not everyone agrees.
By IAN URBINA June 25, 2011; As investment floods into shale wells, concerns about their productivity are spurring talk of a bubble.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Star Gazette: STEG offers drilling resolution, but nothing is resolved

New Yorkers on both sides of Marcellus fracking debate wait
With an eye clearly focused on the job creation and economic boom taking place in Pennsylvania's Northern Tier — and a strong desire to see the same thing take place in New York — Southern Tier Economic Growth's board of directors has come out in favor of the hot-button issue of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Earlier this week, STEG's directors met and unanimously passed a resolution that says Marcellus Shale drilling could add as many as 15,000 jobs to the Southern Tier, $1.7 billion to the state's economy and increase state tax revenues by $200 million by 2015.
The resolution acknowledges hydraulic fracturing's threat to the environment but says it can be accomplished responsibly. The board urges New York to lift the moratorium on the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing by allowing the Department of Environmental Conservation to "immediately begin issuing permits for natural gas drilling in New York State."

To read more:|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Saturday, June 25, 2011

WSJ Article on the Facts About Fracking

The Facts About Fracking

The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don't mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.
Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).


The resulting boom is transforming America's energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America's gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports.
The shale boom is also reviving economically suffering parts of the country, while offering a new incentive for manufacturers to stay in the U.S. Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry estimates fracking in the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from upstate New York through West Virginia, has created 72,000 jobs in the Keystone State between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011.

To Read More:

"Amid this political scrutiny, the industry will have to take great drilling care while better making its public case. In this age of saturation media, a single serious example of water contamination could lead to a political panic that would jeopardize tens of billions of dollars of investment. The industry needs to establish best practices and blow the whistle on drillers that dodge the rules."


Dr. Scott Cline Featured in Daily Freeman -Hudson Valley

Industry rep predicts tax windfall from hydrofracking

A single natural gas well tapped through the drilling method known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, could generate significant tax revenue for Ulster County local governments, school districts, libraries and fire companies, an industry representative says.

Scott Cline, a petroleum engineer who spoke in favor of hydrofracking as a panelist at an  Ulster County Community College forum last month, said the assessed value of the drilling operations would be based in part on  a rate set by the state on the number of cubic feet of natural gas produced. Separately, local governments would assess property associated with the operations.

At last month’s forum, Cline, representing the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, said a standard Pennsylvania well  in the Marcellus Shale region, which extends to the western Catskills of Ulster County — produces 3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. On that basis, he applied the low end of New York state’s assessment rate of $9.80 to $12.12 per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas drawn; an equalization rate of 57 percent — recognizing  that many municipalities are not assessing at full value —  and then applied property tax rates for the Otsego County town of Worcester.

One that basis, Cline said a well would generate $50,083.04 in taxes for the town, $29,235.60 for the county, $181,192.96 for the school district, $943.31 for a library district, and $13,660.54 for a fire district, for a total of $275,115.45 in the first year.

to read more:

Move forward with NY drilling

Since moving back to the Finger Lakes region after a 20 year career as a geologist and petroleum engineer in other states, I have been astounded by the NY opposition to drilling. What may have begun in NY as an inquiry into the science of shale gas development has now devolved into emotional and irrational behavior calling for one unnecessary moratorium after another. Yes, occasional drilling accidents are inevitable as with any human endeavor but unquestionably the technology is already in place to minimize any onshore occurrence or impact and DEC will soon ensure its implementation.
Fears of environmental ruin are exaggerated and examples often have no relevance to shale gas technology. A narrow 5 ½ diameter horizontal hole over a mile beneath the surface, sealed with multiple layers of casing and cement, stimulated by a time proven technology of creating micro-fractures no more than 150 feet in height presents no danger to those of us on the surface. And while the public still debates and frets about surface fluid handling and footprint, industry is already quickly approaching near 100% reuse and recycling of waste water in closed loop systems which minimize the surface spill risks and well pad spacing is now two miles apart, not the 80 acres popularly depicted.  In reality shale gas development has evolved into primarily a short-term traffic nuisance.
While natural gas is not the perfect answer to a carbon free utopia, it can provide an abundant and inexpensive bridge fuel with capability to make significant inroads into both electrical generation and transportation fuel at the expense of dirtier oil and coal. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel with no SO2, mercury or particulates, 80% less NOx and 50% less carbon dioxide than coal and 30% less than oil. The simple transition of the tractor trailer fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas can reduce our oil imports by 50% alone!
It is also a national security and economic issue. Have we already forgotten the past, present and likely future economic, environmental, political and security consequences of our unsustainable and dangerous dependence on oil? Obstructionists with no practical energy or economic alternatives fiddle from their ivory towers while typical upstate New Yorkers and communities struggle in quiet desperation epitomized by what a local struggling farmer recently told me; “We are in the fight of our lives for our economic survival and our basic mineral rights.”
There is no technical reason to continue the endless moratorium cycles. Let our eminently competent DEC simply complete their unparalleled comprehensive analysis that will result in NY requiring and enforcing the latest already proven technical practices and then begin measured Marcellus drilling in NY. It’s time to move forward rather than hinder this exceptional economic opportunity for our state and the miraculous opportunity to help our nation transition away from oil and coal.  
Scott B. Cline
BS Geological Science
MS, PhD Petroleum Engineering
Stanley, NY 14561
Dr Cline, retired from the oil and gas industry, has over twenty years of world-wide exploration and production experience. His research also includes the reservoir engineering aspects of horizontal drilling in fractured reservoirs. He holds a BS in geological science from Penn State and both MS and PhD from University of Oklahoma. He resides in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hydraulic Fracturing in the 1960s

This except is from a well log of well that was drilled and hydraulically fractured in the Town of Maryland, NY. If you look carefully at the date this well was completed on 2/15/1963. Best I can tell by looking at the document it was a 2 Stage Frac; each frac used 16,100 gallons of water. MCA was used, which I believe is a Mud Clearing Acid (commonly used is 15% HCl). The target formation for this well was the Oneida Sands.
In Otsego County the activists have told local residents that there is NO difference between hydraulically fracturing in the Marcellus and the Oneida Sands.

Headline from CBC News: Northrup refuses a hydro-fracking moratorium

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup is remaining steadfast in the provincial government's insistence there will not be a ban on hydro-fracking in New Brunswick.
Northrup said in an interview on Wednesday there is no proof to support the concerns raised by many opponents that the shale gas extraction process is harmful to water supplies.
He said there is still time to strengthen the regulatory regime surrounding hydro-fracking in the province.
"You certainly learn a lot about the process, and it's our understanding that over two million frack jobs have taken place all over the world, and there is no real legal case that has been proved in court," Northrup said.
Regulations could be discussed Thursday in Fredericton when more than dozen groups will meet at an invitation-only forum on natural gas development.

read more:

EPA Identifies Case Studies for Hydraulic Fracturing Study

June 23, 2011

EPA Identifies Case Studies for Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Agency to conduct field work in various regions of the country starting this summer

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, in keeping with the administration’s focus to ensure that the agency leverages domestic resources safely and responsibly, announced the next steps in its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study. EPA has identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.
The sites identified were selected following extensive input from stakeholders, including the public, local and state officials, industry, and environmental organizations. To ensure the agency maintains the current timeline for the study, the EPA will begin field work in some of the selected regions this summer.

Natural gas plays a key role in the nation’s energy future. EPA is working closely with other federal partners to ensure that this important resource can be developed safely.

“This is an important part of a process that will use the best science to help us better understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water,” said Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We’ve met with community members, state experts and industry and environmental leaders to choose these case studies. This is about using the best possible science to do what the American people expect the EPA to do -- ensure that the health of their communities and families are protected.”

The studies, which will take place in regions across the country, will be broken into two study groups. Two of the seven sites were selected as prospective case studies where EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well.

These areas are located in:
Haynesville Shale - DeSoto Parish, La.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.

Five retrospective case studies were selected and will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred for any impact on drinking water resources. These are located in:

Bakken Shale - Kildeer, and Dunn Counties, N.D.
Barnett Shale - Wise and Denton Counties, Texas Marcellus Shale - Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, Pa.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.
Raton Basin - Las Animas County, Colo.

The information gathered from these case studies will be part of an approach which includes literature review, collection of data and information from states, industry and communities, laboratory work and computer modeling. The combination of these materials will allow us to do a more comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The study will continue to use the best available science, independent sources of information, and will be conducted using a transparent, peer-reviewed process, to better understand any impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.

EPA invited stakeholders from across the country to participate in the identification of potential case studies through informational public meetings and the submission of electronic or written comments. Following thousands of comments, over 40 case studies were nominated for inclusion in the study. The case studies were identified, prioritized and selected based on a rigorous set of criteria. These criteria included proximity of population and drinking water supplies to activities, concerns about impaired water quality (retrospective only) and health and environmental impacts (retrospective only), and knowledge gaps that could be filled by the case study. Sites were prioritized based on geographic and geologic diversity, population at risk, site status (planned, active or completed), unique geological or hydrology features, characteristics of water resources, and land use.

The draft study plan and additional information: http://www.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wanted Real World Solutions to Community Problems

I have been thinking hard about a concern that I was confronted with by an elderly neighbor a few weeks back. He wanted to know what the "real" implications of allowing natural gas drilling into his small rural town would be. He had attended many meetings and had only heard about the terrible things that drilling for natural gas can do and nothing about solutions. He wanted to know what happens in the "real" word, and what solutions are used. He knew there had to be solutions since people are still using natural gas.
Now, the term "real" has become a relative word; depending on who you talk to, reality differs.  So, sifting through all the "real", "what could be” or “what ought-a-be" to find the "what is," is a big task. While following a lead, I found this story.  It interested me because it depicts, at a different level, how objects/processes can be viewed as an obtrusion to residents even though the obtrusion may actually serve to benefit them.
The article is from Baltimore County, MD. Residents of Reisterstown and Owing Mills were upset when the County proposed putting up a water tower in their neighborhood forest. 
Some quotes from the opposition of the tower (my thought are in italics):
“It’s in a highly populated residential area. It just doesn’t make any sense,” (Even though the water supply is to serve the populated residential area to improve their water quality and water availability)
 “Public Works could sell the land and the proceeds could be used to purchase other land.”  (Far from here, I am assuming)
“We’re not arguing reasons for the water tower”
 “The reasons could be good, but the location is just inconsistent with the whole area.” (What if all areas felt the same way- then what next?)
According to a local official there is a need for the tower--, “An incident last year when a water pipe on Reisterstown Road broke and some residents were without water for three days further illustrates the need for the tower”
From the opposition group’s Facebook page: “I have been told that the parcel of land on the corner of Timber Grove road and Bond avenue that contains the rows of trees is scheduled to be deforested and replaced by a ~150' water tower by Baltimore County. This will drop all of our home property values because they could be seen for miles away and attract vandals to our neighborhood. The county told us the water tower is required to handle growth and provide increased fire protection. What they haven't told us is that it also happens to increase revenue by relying less on the water pumps.”
The reality here is that these residents need the water. No question about that.  So, what are their solutions besides sending their water tower elsewhere?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some news travels… SLOW...

I had no idea that the Cherry Valley Advocates petition to the NYSDEC was denied.  This story did not make any of the local newspapers.  The petition if I remember right was filed with a lot of fanfare and anticipation.
NYSDEC decision can be read here.
A little bit of history of the basis of the challenge can be found in the Drill Here, Drill Now, Drill Safely Blog.

Response from Maryland Concerned About Drilling Committee

It is all about dialogue. People need to talk and work together. In reaching out to start a dialogue with one of the group against natural gas development, I received this response to my email.

Our group never agreed to participate in this. We considered it as a possibility, one of several. Our focus is in a different direction at this time.
Thank you.
What their focus has been:

From the Daily Star 6/11/2011

The final stage of a gas drilling survey for Town of Maryland residents has been sent out in postcard form, according to a media release from the Maryland Concerned About Drilling Committee.
Survey postcards recently were sent to town residents who were unable to be contacted by phone survey or petition.The postcard asks residents if they are for, against or undecided about gas drilling in the town. The committee is compiling the results to gather public opinion on gas drilling in the town of Maryland.
The postcard can be returned by filling out and mailing the return postage-paid portion of the card.

I know of someone very close to me who received a phone call, and when he responded that he was for safe drilling, the caller responded "Can I change your mind?"

I know of similar stories from residents of both the Towns of Westford and Maryland who have been subjected to the same "survey" tactics.

Does this group represent the Town of Maryland's interest?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Being Proactive Can Make a Community Sustainable

Being proactive is crucial when it comes to preapring for natural gas development activity. Even those who are fighting to block the industry have to be wondering "What if the industry comes despite our best efforts?... What then?" Despite differences in opinion, agenda, or viewpoints, residents in a local community ALL need to band together and determine ways to maximize the economic potential that comes with the natural gas industry so as to avoid a potential "bust." No one will do it for us, we need to do it for ourselves, for our children and for the future of our towns. This is extremely crucial for the small rural towns - we need to consider all sides of the coin and know exactly what is headed our way and we also need to know exactly how to prepare for it. David Kay's Paper: The Economic Impact of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling What Have We Learned? What are the Limitations?  present's alot of food for thought for anyone who can be potentially impacted by shale gas recovery activities.  In conclusion, Kay says;

Communities do not face a dogmatically predetermined outcome regarding the long-term economic development implications of drilling in their communities. Those starry eyed by the prospect of previously unimagined community wealth and those fearful of the certainty of economic decline are each looking into futures that are possible, but most likely exaggerated and more importantly not written in stone.
The lesson of the economic impact studies, despite their limitations, is that large scale natural gas drilling would bring a wave of new money to the region. This money would increase the wealth and income of various individuals and communities at least during parts of the Marcellus development cycle.
Even abstracting from the possible worst environmental consequences of extensive drilling, it would also bring new risks and most unavoidably, significant change. Whether natural gas development would lead to economic diversification or overspecialized dependency is an important economic development concern. In relatively diverse local economies, both industry and consumer spending would be more likely to be locally retained, leading to larger multiplier effects. In such local economies, the gas industry would also be more likely to contribute to diversity and to lessen the potential for instability associated with concentration and overdependence on a commodity famous for price volatility in the short run and depletion in the long run.

Even in smaller rural economies without much existing economic diversity, gas development might offer the possibilty of a diversification strategy. However, in such places the potential for a hard boom bust cycle, and for the gas industry’s competition with pre-existing economic anchors, may be the greatest. For some individuals and communities, the wave of big money would likely rise and fall with an abruptness that many would find deleterious even as for others, the wave would be more sustained and positive.
The resource curse and boom/bust literature suggests that communities with anemic governance, and with little capacity to do more than let the volatility of the boom/bust cycle passively wash over them, can face a sobering and diminished future, especially in the longer term. The less well prepared or well positioned are likely to be left pondering the meaning of the words of Sheik Yamani, former oil minister for Saudi Arabia: ‚All in all, I wish we had discovered water.‛ On the other hand, individuals and communities with the wherewithal to capitalize on the large influx of money passing through their communities have the potential to see significant, sustained economic benefits. These communities will understand the transitory and fluctuating nature of extractive wealth, and negotiate smartly and toughly with the gas companies. They will have plans and capacity to in the first place maximize their access to the flows passing through. In the second place they will develop the management strategies to invest boom revenues wisely. They will develop appropriate mitigation, land use and long term capital planning, taxation and investment strategies, and aggressively seek to diversify and stabilize their economies. First and foremost, they will recognize that they cannot vest their future in an industry guaranteed to eventually disappear."

My biggest concern has to do with an old saying "Where two elephants fight the grass suffers." People are too busy fighting and the community that both sides are trying to help suffers the most.

What Communities Should do to Prepare for Natural Gas Development?

The histories suggest that Marcellus Shale communities need to take the current opportunity to form task forces to organize information and oversight structures in their communities. Such task forces can help to define providers of services, jurisdictions, and authorities among local governments and service providers while creating relationships with private sectors and en­ergy companies. Communities need to define the historical patterns of service demand and identify capacities for growth, and then prepare mitigation strategies for when these thresholds are crossed. Perhaps most importantly, communities should prepare for the volatile nature of energy development and design long-term strategies that produce both short term mitigations and long term investments in their communities.”

Other Wastewater Treatment Options

There is talk about recycling wastewate to reduce the amount of truck traffic by what are some of the options for managing wasetwater at the well site? This powerpoint presentation titled "Water Treatment Options for Marcellus Gas Development" by David Yoxtheimer, P.G. discusses some of the options that the natural gas industry uses.

Are there Facilities in NY that can handle Shale Gas Development Wastewater?


Chapter 7 of the sGEIS discusses the issue of wastewater management.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- Facilities Accepting Waste from natural gas development

SPDES permits are issued to wastewater dischargers, including treatment facilities such as
Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTW’s) operated by municipalities. SPDES permits include specific discharge limitations and monitoring requirements. The effluent limitations are the maximum allowable concentrations and/or mass loadings for various physical, chemical, and/or biological parameters to ensure that there are no impacts to the receiving water body.

è (The discharge limits HAVE to be met or else a facility is in non-compliance with its permit and is subject to legal consequences)

A POTW must have an approved pretreatment program, or mini-pretreatment program, developed in accordance with the above requirements in order to accept industrial wastewater from non-domestic sources

The NYSDEC’s Division of Water shares pretreatment program oversight (approval authority) responsibility with the USEPA.
è (POTW deal with state and federal authority and oversight in the issue of industrial waste- Not the Division of Mineral Resources but the Division of Water)

… Pretreatment or mini-pretreatment programs are required to notify NYSDEC of new discharges
è (i.e. if a POTW wants to accept wastewater)

COMMON MISCONCEPTION: There are no facilities in NY equipped to handle wastewater.
The following list of 91 (Ninety-One) Pretreatment facilities is taken from the dsGEIS is a list of wastewater treatment plants that CURRENTLY have the capability to treat Wastewater from shale gas development activities. There is also a list of mini-treaters that with modification can manage wastewater from shale gas development.

Inwood STP
Bay Park STP
Cedar Creek WPCP
Glen Cove STP
Suffolk DPW Suffolk Co. SD #3 - Southwest NY0104809
 Wards Island WPCP
Owls Head WPCP
Newtown Creek WPCP
Jamaica WPCP
North River WPCP
26th Ward WPCP
Coney Island WPCP
Red Hook WPCP
Tallman Island WPCP
Bowery Bay WPCP
Rockaway WPCP
Oakwood Beach WPCP
Port Richmond WPCP
Hunts Point WPCP
Suffern NY0022748
Orangetown SD #2 NY0026051
Orange County SD #1 Harriman STP NY0027901
 Newburgh WPCF NY0026310
Westchester County Blind Brook
New Rochelle
Port Chester
Yonkers Joint
Rockland County SD #1 NY0031895
Poughkeepsie STP NY0026255
 New Windsor STP NY0022446
 Beacon STP NY0025976
Haverstraw Joint Regional Sewer Board
Haverstraw Joint Regional Stp NY0028533
Kingston (C) WWTF NY0029351
Amsterdam STP NY0020290
Albany County North WWTF
South WWTF
Schenectady (C) Schenectady WPCP NY0020516
Rennselaer County SD #1 Rennselaer County SD #1
City of Plattsburgh WPCP
Glens Falls (C) Glens Fall (C)
Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Board
Saratoga County SD #1
Region Pretreatment Program Facility SPDES Number
Little Falls WWTP NY0022403
Herkimer County Herkimer County SD NY0036528
Rome (C) Rome WPCF NY0030864
Ogdensburg (C) City of Ogdensburg WWTP NY0029831
Oneida County NY0025780
Watertown NY0025984 Has already Treated Marcellus Wastewater Successfully
Auburn STP NY0021903
Fulton (C) NY0026301
Oswego (C) Westside Wastewater Facility
Eastside Wastewater Facility
Cortland (C) LeRoy R. Summerson WTF
Endicott (V) Endicott WWTF
Ithaca (C) NY0026638
Binghamton-Johnson City NY0024414
Onondaga County Metropolitan Syracuse
Baldwinsville/Seneca Knolls
Oak Orchard
Wetzel Road
 Canandaigua STP NY0025968
Webster (T) Walter W. Bradley WPCP
Monroe County Frank E VanLare STP
Northwest Quadrant STP
Batavia (C) NY0026514
Geneva (C) Marsh Creek STP NY0027049
Newark (V) NY0029475
Chemung County Chemung County SD #1
Chemung County - Elmira
Chemung County - Baker Road
Middleport (V) STP NY0022331
North Tonawanda (C) NY0026280
Newfane STP (T) NY0027774
Erie County Southtowns Erie County Southtowns
Erie County SD #2 - Big Sister
Niagara County Niagara County SD #1 NY0027979
Blasdell (V) Blasdell NY0020681
Buffalo Sewer Authority Buffalo (C)
Amherst SD (T)
Niagara Falls (C)
Tonawanda (T) Tonawanda (T) SD #2 WWTP
Lockport (C)
Olean STP (C)
Jamestown STP (C)
Dunkirk STP (C)

Letter to Maryland Concerned About Drilling Committee,

To "Maryland Residents against Drilling" or to the "Maryland Concerned about Drilling Committee" and any other Group that is ready to voice their “concerns” or share voice their opinion about Natural Gas Development in the Town of Maryland.
As residents, friends, and neighbors we need to discuss this issue rationally. I have reached out to you on several occasions to start a dialogue on the subject and to follow the Town Board’s request to convene a committee to explore the local impacts of natural gas development but I have yet to hear back. Your groups have chosen instead to continue a campaign that is having the dire effect of dividing the community. 
Few problems are ever solved by one individual or a group of individual’s acting alone with single agenda especially if there exists an opposing agenda. We have been taught that problems are solved through dialogue. But by choosing to not enter into any kind of dialogue with anyone else outside you’re a specific agenda; your groups are choosing to continue to create a rift in the community.
If you are really concerned about Maryland, then step up and get the dialogue going. You all know where to find me. I am scheduling a meeting to place during the last week of the month to get the Official natural gas exploratory committee going.
Thank you

Analysts: Gas to Continue to Replace Coal for Power Generation - State Journal -

Analysts: Gas to Continue to Replace Coal for Power Generation - State Journal -
Electric power producers will continue to switch from coal to natural gas, according to a recent analysis from energy investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt.
Power generation demand for gas could be 27 billion cubic feet per day, or bcf/d, by 2017, the June 1 analysis forecasts, up from about 20 bcf/d in 2010.
Three drivers are pushing power companies nationwide to switch, according to the report.
Primary among them: an overbuild of gas-fired generation in the decade following 1998. The nation’s 230 gigawatts, or GW, of modern gas-fired generation capacity has run at 30 to 40 percent of its capacity for most of the time since it was built — meaning there’s a lot of gas-fired capacity ready to fire up at a moment’s notice.
Second, cheap, abundant gas — a phenomenon that those living in a shale gas–producing region are familiar with. From wellhead prices in the $6-per-thousand-cubic-feet range and spiking up from there in the mid-2000s, before the shale gas boom really hit, prices now hover closer to $4.
Finally, expensive coal.
“Eastern coal prices have risen largely due to continued operating cost pressure in Appalachia,” reads the analysis — again, a phenomenon familiar in West Virginia. “Marginal cost of production sits at $70+/ton … and environmental and regulatory pressures add to costs.”