Musings: New York State Fracturing Plan Emerges - Battle To Come

New York State Fracturing Plan Emerges - Battle To Come

The New York Times wrote last week about a plan being developed by the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to allow horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in portions of five struggling counties along the Pennsylvania border referred to as the Southern Tier. Importantly, the areas to be opened would be communities that have expressed support for these technologies. The plan being developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation targets the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale formation in the western part of the state. Activity would be prohibited in areas such as near aquifers and nationally designated historic districts along with the Catskill Park. There are thoughts that the plan's details were leaked to The New York Times as a trial balloon to assess the reaction from anti-shale groups.

New York State Fracturing Plan Emerges - Battle To Come

The plan envisions requiring drillers to maintain a 1,000-foot buffer between ground water sources and the top of the shale formation, in an attempt to ease residents' concerns about possible water pollution. There are other location (setback) restrictions that might reduce the number of well locations, but could increase the number of wells and their length from the drilling pad locations allowed. These setback restrictions are being cited by some leaseholders as a problem because if a single drilling pad cannot be located within a single 640-acre section due to setback rules that property might not be drilled costing the landowner income. Possibly, these inaccessible areas might be able to be reached by extended horizontal wells, but that will add further to the cost of these wells. We have seen estimates that the restrictions in the proposed Cuomo plan could eliminate drilling on about 60% of the leases held in New York State.

New York State Fracturing Plan Emerges - Battle To Come

As seen in Exhibit 17, drilling in Pennsylvania has stretched from the southwest corner of the state, which tends to have more oil and liquids-rich gas, to the northeast portion of the state that tends to be "dry" gas oriented. It is this dry gas region that lies just south of the area of New York State that may be available for shale development if the suggested plan is approved. This plan has been developed in response to the state's restriction on shale drilling in mandated until adequate study of how gas shale could be developed and potential risks mitigated. The temporary ban on shale drilling in New York State was initiated in 2008. Since then about 25 communities have banned the use of hydraulic fracturing while another 75 have put in place moratoria on the technology until additional rules and safeguards were enacted. One restriction the state has put in place is a restriction on drilling and fracturing in the watershed areas for New York City and Syracuse. After an extended prohibition period, the start of drilling may be drawing near. We expect plenty of fireworks over the rumored proposal when it is finally presented. Unfortunately, the claims and counterclaims by proponents and opponents to gas shale development will obscure the fact that this resource can be developed in an environmentally-friendly and safe manner for the benefit not only of residents of New York, but for all power customers throughout the New York, New England and Middle Atlantic regions of the country.

G. Allen Brooks works as the Managing Director at PPHB LP. Reprinted with permission of PPHB.


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Richard | Jun. 22, 2012
"... this resource can be developed in an environmentally-friendly and safe manner". This statement is an unfounded assumption that is NOT backed up by science. There is NO evidence that gas can be extracted from tight shales without harming the environment and allowing methane to migrate into the ground water. Whereas the gas industry has a vested intertest in lying to the public and elected officials, the available data clearly show that shale gas extraction will lead to ground water contamination, unacceptably high risk to public health & safety, and ruined lives. A report just issued by Environmental Working Group and Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, June 13, 2012, states: • A 1987 EPA report to Congress found that a shale gas well hydraulically fractured at a depth of more than 4,200 feet contaminated a water supply only 400 feet from the surface. • A 2004 investigation by the state of Colorado found that an improperly cemented natural gas well drilled more than 6,500 feet deep and hydraulically fractured released natural gas and associated contaminants from more than 4,000 feet underground, polluting surface water with unsafe levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen. • Industry studies have found that oil and gas wells routinely develop leaks that allow gas and potentially associated contaminants to migrate from deep underground to the surface. • The U.S. Geological Survey has found that the Marcellus Shale is highly fractured, providing pathways or contaminants to migrate vertically into water supplies. • The U.S. Geological Survey has found that New York officials do not know the locations of many underground water supplies. Furthermore, according to their assessment, there are 10 serious problems with the NY DECs draft regulations which should preclude allowing any drilling to begin until they have been adequately addressed: • No empirical scientific data on drilling and fracking risks • Drilling allowed too close to sensitive water supplies • No plan for disposing of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater • Radioactive pollution from drilling underestimated • Outdated studies to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas operations • No assessment of the impact of shale gas development on New Yorkers’ health • Little basic data on the location of underground water supplies, faults and flood plains • No review of siting plans and risks of potentially explosive natural gas pipelines • No provisions to protect sensitive areas from vertical drilling and lower-volume hydraulic fracturing • Too few inspectors to enforce scientifically rigorous regulations The gas industry has a terrible record with respect to protecting the environment and public health & safety! Ignoring the multitude of reports, denying they exist, or pretending they are not important is an unacceptable response. If our governor is willing to place his future political ambitions in the hands of this industry, he may be sorely disappointed when they let him down like they have community after community across Americas gaslands.

Eric Peterson | Jun. 21, 2012
I know a company in Houston Texas who have the solution to this problem. They have a eco-friendly green product that is used for fracturing which will kill all of the contaminates in the water. This product will help keep the economy going and eliminate the hazards that come from traditional fracturing. Get in touch with me if you would like to find out more about this product and how both sides of this debate can get what they want.


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