Hurricane Sandy is headed towards the East Coast. The New York Governor’s office is making preparations for emergency management.
The Crisis Response team at Google Maps has an excellent storm tracker that provides information on the current location, projected path and other advisories along the path of Hurricane Sandy. The eye of the storm will pass through near Ithaca in the next couple of days.
For coastal areas, watch the Storm Surge Warning System from Stevens Institute of Technology. Water level at Cape May, NJ has already crossed the flood mark, even though Sandy is yet to make landfall.
This list is in no way exhaustive. Rather, it attempts to provide a set of primary references that offer key pieces of information in building a clear understanding of the gas drilling issue. Thus, it is subjective in its completeness. Annotations attempt to identify unique or defining characteristics of each entry. References to popular press and advocacy groups, both of which are numerous and described in detail elsewhere, are for the most part excluded here.
Open the pdf to view the list
Private water well owners are responsible for their own water quality. Even in the absence of shale?gas drilling, well owners are strongly encouraged to evaluate their water on a regular basis in order to ensure that basic water quality standards are being met. Information on general testing that applies to all private water supplies can be found at http://waterquality.cce.cornell.edu/testing.htm. This bulletin discusses additional testing in order to more specifically document potential impacts of Marcellus Shale gas development on drinking water supplies. It is intended for landowners and private water well users who seek information on the need, frequency, and thoroughness of testing in the context of shale?gas activity.
The issue of testing private water wells raises these key questions:
- ? Who should test their water?
- ? When should testing occur?
- ? What should be tested for?
Read the full pdf
Comments on draft sGEIS for Marcellus Shale
These comments are limited to addressing mitigating the impacts of drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale on the water resources of New York State. The comments are organized under three major topics of concern:
1) Mitigating cumulative impacts
2) Minimizing environmental risk
3) Monitoring activities and impacts
On October 15, Professors Susan Riha and Anthony Hay testified before the NYS Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation’s hearing on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement governing natural gas drilling. Below are copies of their testimony.
Professor Hay states in his testimony of Oct. 15, in Table 5.9 (pg. 5-106) of the draft sGEIS listing typical concentrations of flowback constituents based on samples from PA and WV, 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide is detected in all 24 of the samples tested in concentrations ranging from 1422 to 48336 mg/L. These are unusually high concentrations of this chemical, which is reported to be a tumorigen and mutagen. The footnote to the table indicates that the raw data for the table came from several sources, with likely varying degrees of reliability, so the validity of these values questionable.
Testimony Susan Riha 10_15_09
Hay S-GEIS Hearing Testimony 10 15 09
How much of the water used in horizontal hydrofracing is recovered?
If the frac job is done correctly, most, if not all, the volume of water used in hydrofracing is returned, but its composition changes over time as saline formation water begins to mix in with the frac water and is recovered with it. The time it takes to recover the frac water depends on whether there is enough gas to push the water out of the hole, or if the water needs to be pumped (initially) to get the gas to flow and carry out the rest. Generally it takes about two weeks to recover the volume of water initially injected; after that the water recovered is generally considered formation water.
How can homeowners protect their private well supplies?
Penn State has a bulletin Gas Well Drilling and Your Private Water Supply addressing this question.
While possible adverse impacts to water quality are often associated with Natural Gas extraction, impacts to air quality are many times overlooked. Few people dispute that air pollution occurs from the use of diesel-powered drilling rigs, pick-up trucks, tractor-trailers, and earth moving equipment, in addition to the particulate matter dispersed from dust, natural gas flaring, and gas dehydration and separation equipment.
What is disputed is the amount of air polution and what effects this pollution may have.
In Sublette County, Wyoming, one of the most sparsely populated counties in the continental United States and home to massive natural gas fields, the State of Wyoming recently recommended “non-attainment” status be given by the EPA for ozone levels that breach the Clean Air Act for the past several years. However, industry groups and other skeptics portend that the heightened ozone levels are the result of a combination of industry pollutants and rare weather patterns that concentrate the ozone to unnatural levels, a feat they say is nearly un-reproducable in other areas or in a consistent manner.
Meanwhile, in the Barnett Shale region of Texas, a recent report from Southern Methodist University claims that trucks, compressors, and tank batteries produce more ozone-causing volatile organic compounds each day than do all the non-gas field cars and trucks operated in the entire Dallas -Ft. Worth region. However, industry trade groups counter that if the study were accurate, then ozone would have skyrocketed in recent years as drilling activity has exploded, but in fact ozone levels in Dallas Ft. Worth have decreased over the past several years.
And while the previous two examples involve nearly Los Angeles-sized Ozone levels, the LA Times recently ran a story about a 18-year study that shows long-term exposure to even low levels of Ozone is lethal over time.
While the national newspapers are penning breathless stories on the demise of the natural gas drilling industry, energy firms with drilling programs in the Marcellus Shale are planning to dramatically expand their drilling operations in 2009, especially in Pennsylvania, according to an analysis of publicly released investor statements and local newspaper interviews with gas company officals.
The major gas companies had an average of 18 or so drilling rigs targeting the Marcellus Shale formation by the end of 2008. Investor statements and newspaper interviews indicate this number will jump to 45 or more by the end of 2009. While companies currently face multiple constraints from lowered commodity prices, limited water permitting and disposal availability, and limitied infrastructure capability, statements from gas company officials indicate that the energy companies are currently positioning themselves for time frames of 2011 or 2012 when these constraints are expected to be mitigated.
Here are a list of investor statements or interviews from some of the major Marcellus Shale drilling companies:
CABOT: Plans to stay at 6 drilling rigs through 2009.
RANGE: Plans to increase from 3 to 6 drilling rigs.
FORTUNA: Plans to increase from 1 to 5 drilling rigs.
CHESAPEAKE: Plans to increase from 6 to 16 drilling rigs.
CHIEF: Plans to increase from 1 to 6 drilling rigs
EOG: Plans to increase from from 0 to 1 drilling rigs
ATLAS: Plans to increase from 1 to 2 drilling rigs.
Natural gas drilling operations in Dimock, Pa., are violating laws to protect water and the public, Pennsylvania regulators have determined.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is holding Cabot Oil & Gas accountable for allowing natural gas from lower formations to contaminate fresh water supplies, according to a “Notice of Violation” sent to Cabot dated Feb. 27.
While tapping gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, the company has violated the state’s Oil and Gas Act and Clean Stream Laws, the notice states. Both of those regulations protect drinking water supplies from natural gas hazards.
Gas from Cabot drilling operations has migrated into an aquifer providing water for local residents, the DEP has determined. More than a dozen wells proving water to homes along and near Carter Road have been affected. Four have been taken offline and others have been vented.
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