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Marcellus Shale

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GuyO

Linda,

I would be asking your Michigan Dept of Environmental

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GuyO

Linda,

Sorry, pushed  wrong button. As I was saying you should be asking your state agency to show you documentation. If I had to guess, bet that water use number is for ALL the golf courses in the state or your area on daily average.  Besides,comparing water use of well drillers to golf courses maintaing green space is just ABSURD!!

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Tim Frazier

If I interpreted the statement correctly, NY will not allow ANY drilling on state owned land.  I'm an ADK member and this issue has been hot with them all year.  One law specifically passed stated that there would be no fracking allowed anywhere in the water shed of NYC which is all of the Adirondack park.  Many don't know that water is the real reason the Adirondack park was formed.  This current issue is a good example of why NY has never wanted any of it's parks under national control.  There is a good book, "Adirondack Park: A Political History" by Frank Graham that gives a very good insight on why NYS makes decisions about natural resources the way they do and it would surprise many.

I believe there was an old saying that amounted to "money is for spending, water is for dying over" .

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ANF grousin
For those who are interested, quite a few respected hunting and fishing-focused conservation orgs are involved:

Izaak Walton League

New York State Trappers Association

Quality Deer Management Association

Pennsylvania Forest Coalition

The Wildlife Society

Theodore Gordon Flyfishers

and

Trout Unlimited

http://www.sportsmenalliance.org/about_us.htm

A little more on this group with their fact sheet Fact sheet

Water useage - wont get into it any more other then to remind everyone that DEP regulates and monitors the withdrawl.

Water treatment - If the date hasnt arrived it will shortly where your typical waste water treatment plant cant accept frac water any more, so that becomes a non-issue.  But here is proof of testing being done with no problems.  This is my water company, just not the same water I drink.

Water ok

Spills - yes they can and do occur, and companies are fined severely from them.  Illegal discharges.... just aint gonna happen; companies would be shut down and sent back home.

Storm water runoff - They must follow the same regulations anyone else follows for controlling runoff.  If they need to be tightened, it needs to be for all industries.  I've seen some of the protections in other industries and shake my head wondering what runoff that will really prevent.

Wastewater storage - the ponds are fenced, no one or wildlife have access to them other then birds.  Liners that leak equal big fines.  They use the same types of liners that landfills use.  If its good for one, its good for all.

Fragmented forests - LMFAO at this one.  Migration routes for wildlife in Pa?  Really.  The only migration we have is waterfowl and woodcock.  A 5 acre pad will affect this but ridge tops filled with with windmills is good?  Cutting  5 acres of trees is bad because its a well pad, but a 400 acre clearcut is good?  

Compacted soil - Please read a different thread where the Kane RGS chapter is using well pads to their advantage for wildlife with the help of the drilling companies.  All those trucks, really?  Using the worst case scenerio, each truck will only take out 2700 gallons of waste water each trip?  Seems like fuzzy math to me.  They will risk equipment and lives on unsafe bridges, really?

Noise - Drives game away?  Where are all these critters going?  Why doesnt the same game leave town during a timbering operation?

Loss of public access - now they are really grasping with the fear factor.  I have seen some places post 20 acres off limits while they are activly working, but once they move out, all is open again.  That posted land is to protect workers, and the company if groups come in looking to cause destruction.

The PFSC is staying away from this group.  The have some very knoweldgeable people and are for responsible drilling with the protections needed for the environment.  But they seem to see this as an anti-drilling group, not something they want to be associated with.

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Briarscratch
Great analysis Jeff.  Maybe you could use that same laser-like scrutiny on the press releases put out by the gas companies? Unless you're confident that they're telling the absolute truth.  Which they may be, except for the fact that they aren't telling anyone exactly what kinds of chemicals they're pumping down those holes.  Why would that be?

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Almost Heaven GSP's
Great analysis Jeff.  Maybe you could use that same laser-like scrutiny on the press releases put out by the gas companies? Unless you're confident that they're telling the absolute truth.  Which they may be, except for the fact that they aren't telling anyone exactly what kinds of chemicals their pumping down those holes.  Why would that be?

Have to agree with "Tobias Hume"(LOL!) on this Jeff. If your defense of the practice is due to the fact that we as a Nation MUST do something and FAST, to secure our energy future, then I am in 100% support for this, drilling for Oil, Wind, Solar, Hydro and Nuclear solutions and now. I can't believe, we as one of the most advanced Nations on this planet, cannot utilize and devise more economical, efficient and safe methods to do all of those.

However, I have MAJOR CONCERN for what the crap is they are pumping into the ground. Aquifers are a bit of a mystery in how they flow and replenish and when we start "breaking" rock underground, there is no possible way I can be convinced that we are not creating new pathways for those Aquifers to travel and for this crap to travel to those Aquifers. Eliminate any and all of these concerns for safe drinking water and they have my undivided support, until then.....

As far as I see, water is more valuable than any oil or gas. I would happily go back to the stone ages before giving up the lifeblood of water, after all, you can't drink oil and gas.

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L. Gallagher

There's a lot of folks who think the fracking and deep wells are the answer to all of our energy problems. Which is fine, they have a right to their opinions.

So let's put all those wells on THEIR property, not our national forests and state lands,...and see what they say one year from now. Just think of all that money they'll make, they should all be thrilled to be honored with the presence of those wells.

If they are still in favor of the drilling, then maybe the rest of us should relax.

The state of New York declared a moratorium on the deep wells late last summer pending the results of a two or three year mandated EPA study on the practice.

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ANF grousin

Scratch, I sit right in the middle.  Show me some press releases and I'll give them the same scutiny.  I'm an equal opportunity complainer.  I get my best information talking to an office worker for a Pa based company that has been around for a long time, and got into the shale drilling about a year ago.  She will give me the facts as well as she knows them.  I trust no one but I expect regulations to be enforced equally.  Farmers and sewage treatment plants are the biggest polluters of our waterways yet get a free ride.  Gas companies are being scrutinized heavily because they have extra money everyone wants.  As to the secrets in frac water, I'm assuming its to keep more public pressure off them.  The finger pointing will take place how they are killing off the earth with their poisons.  Same thing happened in the recent past with tobacco companies.  Everyone talked about the evils of what they put in smokes, sued until they got billions of dollars for governments to piss away, yet everyone keeps happily polluting their lungs with that poison they were so much against.  But we got $$$ from the evil tobacco companies.

Bruce, I see shale wells as better for the underground water supply then shallow wells.  They are drilling much deeper then the aquifers.  The casings are supposed to be double lined and cemented well below that level.  If a company is skimping then lets fine them and put them out of business.  Aquifers might run 1000 feet deep, shale wells are 8000 feet +.  So unless that fracturing is rising up to that level there should be no issue.  Shallow wells are sitting in that aquifer zone and much susceptible to polluting the ground water.  There are areas in this state where methane is so close to the surface that drilling water wells and cause a methane leak and pollute the water, who gets the blame for that?  Who pays for that?

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Kansas Big Dog

Where Does Methane Come From?

Methane (CH4) is emitted from a variety of both human-related (anthropogenic) and natural sources. Human-related activities include fossil fuel production, animal husbandry (enteric fermentation in livestock and manure management), rice cultivation, biomass burning, and waste management. These activities release significant quantities of methane to the atmosphere. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of global methane emissions are related to human-related activities (U.S. EPA).

Natural sources of methane include wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils, and other sources such as wildfires.

Methane emission levels from a source can vary significantly from one country or region to another, depending on many factors such as climate, industrial and agricultural production characteristics, energy types and usage, and waste management practices. For example, temperature and moisture have a significant effect on the anaerobic digestion process, which is one of the key biological processes that cause methane emissions in both human-related and natural sources. Also, the implementation of technologies to capture and utilize methane from sources such as landfills, coal mines, and manure management systems affects the emission levels from these sources.

Emission inventories are prepared to determine the contribution from different sources. The following sections present information from inventories of U.S. man-made sources and natural sources of methane globally. For information on international methane emissions from man-made sources, visit the International Analyses Web site.

Human-Related Sources in the United States

In the United States, the largest methane emissions come from the decomposition of wastes in landfills, ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock, natural gas and oil systems, and coal mining.

http://www.epa.gov/outreach/sources.html

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Kansas Big Dog

From the EPA

Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and the process known as hydraulic fracturing (HF) is one way of accessing that vital resource. HF is used by gas producers to stimulate wells and recover natural gas from sources such as coalbeds and shale gas formations. HF is also used for other applications including oil recovery. Over the past few years, several key technical, economic, and energy policy developments have spurred increased use of HF for gas extraction over a wider diversity of geographic regions and geologic formations. It is projected that shale gas will comprise over 20% of the total US gas supply by 2020 PDF (230pp, 2M, About PDF). Along with the expansion of HF, there has been increasing concerns about its potential impacts on drinking water resources, public health, and environmental impacts in the vicinity of these facilities.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EPA's Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan

In its Fiscal Year 2010 budget report, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Conference Committee identified the need for a focused study of this topic. EPA scientists, under this administration and at the direction of Congress, are undertaking a study of this practice to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water and groundwater.  EPA consulted with experts in the field through peer review, and technical workshops and engaged stakeholders in a dialogue about the study through facilitated public meetings.

EPA has submitted its draft study plan on hydraulic fracturing for review to the agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB).

The overall purpose of the study is to understand the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. The scope of the proposed research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced water and its ultimate treatment and disposal.

The SAB plans to review the draft plan March 7-8, 2011. Consistent with the operating procedures of the SAB, an opportunity will be provided for stakeholders and the public to provide comments to the SAB during their review. The Agency will revise the study plan in response to the SAB's comments and promptly begin the study. Initial research results are expected by the end of 2012 with a goal for a report in 2014.

For additional information:

Science Advisory Board Review Request PDF (3pp, 85K, About PDF)

Hydraulic Fracturing Draft Study Plan PDF  (140pp, 2.7M, About PDF)

Press release on Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Proposed Study Timeline

With input from the meetings in July, August, and September, EPA plans to submit the draft study plan to the Science Advisory Board for peer review in early 2011.  EPA expects to initiate the study in early 2011 and to have the initial study results available by late 2012.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hydraulic Fracturing Study Technical Workshops

Experts will contribute to the workshops as presenters and provide technical knowledge during workshop discussions. Meeting space is limited and EPA will select approximately 40-50 experts for attendance at each workshop. Experts with significant relevant and current experience that reflects the topics of the technical workshops will be selected. Subject-matter experts will also be selected to maintain balanced viewpoints from various stakeholder groups including industry, environmental, academic, and regulatory communities.

For more information on workshop topics, download the workshop flyer PDF (1pp, 54K, About PDF)

Agenda for Chemical and Analytical Methods Workshop, February24-25, 2011 PDF, (3pp, 175K, About PDF)  

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hydraulic Fracturing Information Request

On September 9, 2010, EPA issued voluntary information requests to nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers. The data requested is integral to the Hydraulic Fracturing Study now underway by EPA, which seeks to understand any potential relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. EPA is seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted.

Click here to read the letters sent by EPA to the nine hydraulic fracturing service providers PDF (10pp, 36K, About PDF).

EPA Press Release on Voluntary Information Request

On November 9, 2010, EPA announced that eight out of the nine hydraulic fracturing companies that received voluntary information requests in September agreed to submit timely and complete information to help the Agency conduct its study on hydraulic fracturing. However, the ninth company, Halliburton, has failed to provide EPA the information necessary to move forward with this important study. As a result, and as part of EPA's effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided.

Click here to read the letter sent by EPA to Halliburton PDF (2pp, 516K, About PDF).

Click here to read the subpoena sent by EPA to Halliburton PDF (11pp, 3.5M, About PDF).

EPA Press Release on Results of Voluntary Information Request

On December 3rd, EPA received written confirmation from Halliburton that it will comply with the agency’s mandatory request for information on the company's hydraulic fracturing operations. Halliburton has agreed to provide the information on a rolling basis through January 31, 2011. EPA is pleased to have reached an agreement to access this crucial information that will help us carry out our congressionally mandated study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. EPA's subpoena remains in place and is subject to enforcement if the terms of the recent agreement are not met.

http://water.epa.gov/type....dex.cfm

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Don Steese
I think I read somewhere that the gas companies have decided to disclose the makeup of the stuff they're pumping into these wells. We can then decide whether we want to believe them. Some will, some won't.

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juneboy1

Clean energy?  They found 20 barrels of fracking fluid in Choctaw  creek in the Ozark Mountains near Clinton  Arkansas

http://www.kuar.org/kuarnew....ek.html

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juneboy1

Has anyone mentioned earthquakes? North Arkansas (Fayetteville Shale) is now the new home of daily earthquakes.  Same area that the fracking fluid barrels were found last week.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011....97.html

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Dave Gowdey

What constantly amazes me is our inability as a society to learn from past experiences.  It isn't as though all of the problems with fracking and natural gas development are new.  My experience with these issues is in WY and parts of CO -where all of this happened in almost the exact same way 20 years ago.  

The companies came in waving dollars and talking about how they could drill without affecting wildlife, what good stewards of the land they were, and how fracking did NOT affect ground water or the environment.  Ranchers and landowners in rural areas, couldn't wait to make some money off of the boom, and ate up what the companies were telling them.  The state was dying for the royalties and taxes, and they fast tracked just about everything the companies wanted - and because there were about 30 state inspectors for more then 20,000 wells the notion of state regulation became little more than a pleasant fiction.  Everybody said this was all right because the companies wouldn't do anything wrong - it wasn't in their financial interest.  

Tell those same folks that today and those that don't work for the industry will just laugh.  The saying nowadays is that the way you could tell anyone from the oil and gas industry was lying was that their lips were moving.  And anyone who is going to rely on employees of an oil and gas company to tell them the truth deserves to have a well drilled in their back yard and be forced to drink the groundwater.  

Everything that the sportsmen's organizations documented and raised questions about is based upon actual experience - not oil and gas industry claims.  If you google some of this stuff you'll see videos of folks who can light their tap water on fire because of fracking, dead livestock and fish from industry spills, terrible air pollution problems from the diesel motors on well pads in areas that had some of the best air in the country -and wildlife populations that have declined anywhere there is concentrated drilling.  This has all happened before - it's not as though there isn't enough information.  I hope this is why NY is taking the rather enlightened attitude it is.  

Sadly, what is also on the record is the ineffectiveness of government agencies in dealing with this industry.  Local officials typically roll over  either because they have clear conflicts of interest, are bribed, or because they hear about the money and jobs the companies claim they will bring (they NEVER bring as much as they claim they will) and want that for their constituents.  The companies will bully these politicians to get them to make sure that any regulators that want to impose real regulations or do real inspections are silenced.  The state agencies will be both overwhelmed, and will find that those that make waves for the industry will be looking for new employment.  

The feds were bought and paid for in the Bush administration, and not much has changed in this administration (drill baby drill).  If you believe that's hype, google the Minerals Management Service - the agency that "regulated" oil and gas and check the record.  Also the stories about BLM permitting in Wyoming.  As for the EPA, fracking has been causing significant environmental problems for more than two decades and they are just getting around to looking into the issue?  Kind of says something about their political will to look into this, doesn't it?  And when there are problems, and there will be, the companies will first deny that it's them, and then say that it's an exception - that they are really wonderful environmental stewards.  Everything will then be swept under the rug and go back to the status quo.  

As for the Game and Fish Commission - they will not do anything as politically risky as opposing oil and gas development until they are forced to.  It isn't surprising they aren't siding with the sportsman's groups at this point - but it says more about the commission than the defensibility of the position of the sportsmen's organizations.  I bet most of the PA wildlife biologists and other employees are quietly in support of these groups  in private.  My advice to you guys is to get behind these groups and try and force real regulation and some planning on the industry before it's too late.  You don't have to stop everything, but you need to make sure that it's really done right - not in the way the companies want.  If you don't, you won't be able to stop it later.  

NY makes me hope that not every state government is so stupid and corrupt that it will repeat the same mistakes with the oil and gas industry others have done over and over again.  Sadly, what I hear about PA makes me suspect they are.  Good luck.

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Guest

Good morning all,

First, I'd like to re-introduce myself and say how much I've enjoyed this site.  I've been lurking on here for years, although I did post a reply to a tree ID query a few years ago(Brad, my log-in still worked!)

As a beginner, I've learned a lot from this site as I first found the site not that long after I got into grouse hunting.  Thanks to many of you for accelerating my trip along the learning curve.

For better, or for worse, this is a topic I have some experience with as I work for one of the gas companies drilling into the Marcellus.

I'm not an expert by any means and I know more about some phases of the operation than others.  I thought I'd comment on some of things I've seen so far.

I'll agree with Don Steese, that, like a lot of things, this is complicated.  Don, I was at the outdoor writers meeting that Sunday.  Too bad we didn't meet.

As for the public roads, the industry is paying to repair all damages to both state and local roads.  I spoke with a consultant we use on some of our road maintenance plans.  His firm does work for several of the larger operators.  He estimated that in 2010, the industry spent between $500 million and a billion on road maintenance and upgrades in PA.  A billion seems high to me, but the $500 million doesnt seem out of line at all.

Well pads are about 5 acres in size.  Once the well is in production, that can be reduced to maybe 1/2 acre.  Multiple wells can be put on one pad.  One pad with 10 wells on it could access the gas under close to two square miles, not too much of a footprint.  That's the upper end, and will be more prevalent on larger tracts like on the state forests.

DEP, SRBC, PSU and others all seem comfortable with the amount of water to be used.  The regulations currently in place are designed to prevent too much from being taken from any one spot at one time.  The correlation with golf courses is that in PA, water use from the Marcellus is equivalent to use from all the states golf courses.  Both are pretty far down the list of water users.  Like golf courses and other industries, withdrawals for Marcellus can be stopped during periods of low flow.  It happened quite a bit last summer.

Frac chemicals are now listed at several places on line.  The DEP has a list posted and some of the companies have posted what they use, well by well, on their websites.  Freshwater aquifers are protected by three or so strings of steel pipe, all cemented back to surface.

Hope this helps answer some questions.

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