June 13, 2012

Gov. Cuomo wants to permit fracking, but only in a few counties along the Pennsylvania border...

... and only where the local populace supports the activity.

He's trying to balance between the people who worry about contaminating the groundwater (and cutting down trees) and those who fear the state will be left behind as other states tap the Marcellus Shale.
The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation that stretches from the Appalachian Mountains into the central and western parts of New York. State regulators believe that by limiting drilling to areas where the Marcellus Shale is at least 2,000 feet deep, risks of contaminating the water supply with toxic chemicals will be reduced. Regulators would require drillers to maintain a 1,000-foot buffer between water sources and the top of the shale formation.

31 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

The wif ( an Upstater) and I have a Camp in mid NY (on Raquette Lake). We New yorkers (disclosure, I was born in Chico :) call our Summer places "Camps" like we were Carnegie's

Anyway, we drive up through Harrisburg, Binghamton, Utica, Old Forge. As you go North, the anti-fracking signs start. Basicly, the people with gas are in favor, the people w/o are not.

Patrick said...

"In fracking, large amounts of sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressures to extract natural gas from rock formations.

The NYT could have educated me a bit more with perhaps one more sentence, explaining what chemicals are injected. Another, explaining what the potential dangers of those chemicals are would have been even more helpful.

Without that information, what am I to conclude. "Chemicals" is often used as a proxy for "man made, bad stuff." But if they want it to scare me, they are going to have to do better than that.

dmoelling said...

I sat on a plane last year to Oklahoma City from the Northeast and happened to overhear some Oil and Gas guys who were returning from Pennsylvania. A couple of key points I remember.

1) They thought house prices would be lower due to crappy house market.

2) They were bringing crews in from the Oil Patch in OK and TX not just for experience but because local labor unions had poisoned the local labor. The money for the crews is high, but the locals attitude towards work and management is toxic.

Upstate NY is an economic wasteland. Allowing shale drilling would spin off huge numbers of additional industrial jobs. (In Youngstown Ohio Vallourec is building a huge new pipe production facility just to service drilling). NY is letting retirees and weekenders to control economic development, not a great idea.

MadisonMan said...

I can't read about Marcellus Shale and not think of the Music Man and Buddy Hackett.

MadisonMan said...

As far as Cuomo's plan goes, it's a start, I suppose. Either the counties who approve it have a nice boom, which will make their neighbors salivate with envy and yearn to climb aboard, perhaps too late, or there will be local environmental degradation, allowing those places reluctant to join in to say I told you so. Or more likely, someplace in the middle. I have to think that any problems can be overcome by technological advances. Cuomo could sell this as a funding source for over-generous retirement packages for state workers :)

The nice thing about fracking is that it requires special sand, like the kind you find in central WI.

Doc Holliday's Bastard said...

If I remember correctly, the original reason for stopping fracking in NY came on the heals of a study showing high methane in levels in wells in Pennsylvania. The problem with the using that study as evidence that fracking is bad was that it didn't control for testing in wells near where drilling had and had not occurred and that many of the "contaminated" wells were in places where Nat Gas companies hadn't drilled but were looking to...because of a high likelihood of finding methane. It was only later that the proprietary solution used in fracking and the "chemicals" used became the new bete noir.

The Drill SGT said...

Patrick,

What happens is that you drill down through the acquifer, which from my experience owning a NY well is 50-100 feet down.

You continue down to the 2000 ft level.

The hole is double lined with pipe and concrete. you pump water mixed with sand and trace chemicals (lubricants really) down into the shale layers and hydraulic pressure splits the shale and allows the gas to collect.

1. drilling a water well can cause acquifer contaimination with trace drilling products. So can drilling a gas well through water.

2. In the Wyoming mention in the article, the EPA found the contaiminents to be under any of their thresholds. The EPA Adminstrator said this to Congress:

Washington, Feb 29 -

Rep. Lummis: “Did you find fracking fluid in the (Pavillion) drinking water.”

Administrator Jackson: “No not to my knowledge.”


3. many of the chemicals found in alleged acquifer contaimination are hydro-carbons. e.g. stuff found in natural gas and oil. finding hyrdocarbons in water above hydrocarbons isnt a huge surprised.

CatherineM said...

Patrick - it's mostly water and ingrediants/surficants you find in the bottle of washing detergent in your laundry room. I am tired of the phony controversy and how natural gas went from the lowest carbon/best alternative to the worst thing ever overnight due to the phony "Gasland" movie.

I think some people would like us all to live by candelight.

MadisonMan said...

Rep. Lummis: “Did you find fracking fluid in the (Pavillion) drinking water.”

Administrator Jackson: “No not to my knowledge.”

What a weasely answer. I hope the follow-up question was: How knowledgeable are you about this? When you say Not to my knowledge is it because you don't know anything?

The Drill SGT said...

Doc said...The problem with the using that study as evidence that fracking is bad was that it didn't control for testing in wells near where drilling had and had not occurred and that many of the "contaminated" wells were in places where Nat Gas companies hadn't drilled but were looking to...

Yeah, folks forget that the original Oil wells in the US were in PA, where oil essentially was bubbling on the surface.

Finding gas in water taps is a natural happenings. The whole area has hydro carbons near the surface in acquifer. The shale is much deeper.

Patrick said...

The Drill Sgt's response illustrates why I believe that Journalism school is a waste of time. It would have taken very little effort to answer the fairly basic question, but the writer assumes that "chemicals" are bad, and that any presences of "chemicals" are harmful. Given how consistently they leave out information, and how consistently such ommissions tend to support positions held by the left, I tend to think it's by design.

Thanks, Sgt.

Patrick said...

And CatherineM

Tim Wright said...

Boy, does dmoelling have it right. I live in upstate NY and see the consequences to the economy of deep blue politics. tim

Kirk Parker said...

CatherineM,

"I think some people would like the survivors to live by candelight."

FIFY.

bandmeeting said...

I can't read about Marcellus Shale and not think of the Music Man and Buddy Hackett

Wrong. He's a power forward.

From The Gormagons: As for whether they will utilize Marcellus Shale, bear in mind that his numbers as a power forward are really down this year. Known as a perky rebounder, his earlier knee injury put him on the bench for almost two weeks, and so far the Heat has found they are winning more games without him. Look for him to be traded next season

http://www.gormogons.com/2011/04/japan-ivory-coast-and-marcellus-shale.html

I bicycle through that area and from what I see the yard signs are mostly against (people who are against something are more likely to be vocal about it). Lots of farmers against and any and all houses that have sort of a quirky, artsy touch.

At the Memorial Day parade I attended a local crane service ran their humongous, expensive,new machines and my friend told me they are all used (and paid for) in Penn.

edutcher said...

Andy's putting another bullet point on his resume for when he runs for the Demo nomination in '16.

Curious George said...

"The nice thing about fracking is that it requires special sand, like the kind you find in central WI."

Actually more prevalent in western Wisconsin along the Mississippi. They also have sand mines in MN and IA for that reason. My sister lives near Lake Pepin, and they have a big sand mine issue in their town of Maiden Rock.

Darrell said...

The gas seeps from the shale are naturally occurring and have been reported since the first settler arrived and tapped into the aquifers. There isn't a normal reservoir situation with shale deposits and normal cracks appear. Fracking never had anything to do with it. Neither did drilling.

This whole issue is based on the Left wanting to get rid of conventional oil and natural gas usage for their own reasons, mostly based on ignorance and some silly notions of utopian life prior to the oil age.

Mitch H. said...

They missed their window, gas plays are going to be low-margin affairs for the next few years, as the market digests the glut and tries to find new capacity to profitably burn what we've got.

The NYT could have educated me a bit more with perhaps one more sentence, explaining what chemicals are injected. Another, explaining what the potential dangers of those chemicals are would have been even more helpful.

Most Pennsylvania papers and 'sites have the lists linked somewheres. Back when I went through 'em, it seemed like the nastiest stuff was the algaecides and some of the squiffier surfactants. Not something I'd recommend drinking right out of the vat, but there are worse substances used in agriculture - right on the goddamn surface.

(In Youngstown Ohio Vallourec is building a huge new pipe production facility just to service drilling).

Hah! My (and my company's) bank was mightily proud of helping finance that exact facility. At the time, I was worried that they were catching a fading wave, I underestimated how long it would flow, they might still make money on the deal.

Curious George said...

"Darrell said...
This whole issue is based on the Left wanting to get rid of conventional oil and natural gas usage for their own reasons, mostly based on ignorance and some silly notions of utopian life prior to the oil age."

And this goes also for the sand mines that produce the silica used for fracking. Sure some people simply don't want the truck traffic (NIMBY) but most of the effort is based on the fracking the sand is used for.

Darrell said...

Removing the accumulated natural gas will actually prevent the seeps into the water aquifers in the future. Same with withdrawing the oil and reducing reservoir pressure off the coast of California and those naturally occuring oil seeps. Those extreme resrvoir pressures they encountered with that BP well in the Gulf tell me that drilling there has to be a top priority for the Nation, before natural fractures occur and there is a huge release of oil into the Gulf.

EMD said...

Andy's putting another bullet point on his resume for when he runs for the Demo nomination in '16.

Ditto. His subtle pragmatism will set him apart from other contenders.

Richard Dolan said...

This is Andy Cuomo's attempt to solve his version of the Keystone pipeline problem. I doubt that it will satisfy anyone. To the extent it helps position him in seeking the Dem nomination in '16, it will handicap him in winning the election if he gets the nomination, just as the Keystone deal has hurt Obama.

CatherineM said...

Darrell - excellent point.

At my community board meeting, they are all against fracking because the top board member is an alcolyte of RFK Jr and "riverkeepers." According to him, the resevoir that supplies NYC water is at stake!

The same community board shut me down when I brought up concerns about the mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs. "Already discussed. They are the answer..."

Just bizarre, disconnected thinking.

Crunchy Frog said...

I can't read about Marcellus Shale and not think of the Music Man and Buddy Hackett.

I can't read about Marcellus Shale and not think of Pulp Fiction and Zed.

The Drill SGT said...

CatherineM said...
Darrell - excellent point.

At my community board meeting, they are all against fracking because the top board member is an alcolyte of RFK Jr and "riverkeepers." According to him, the resevoir that supplies NYC water is at stake!


Your board guy is an idiot. The issue with fracking is about possible damage to underground acquifiers. e.g. well water.

NYC gets it's water from the Catskills (upper Delaware River), from Westchester, and from capturing some streams that would drain to the Hudson in the East catskills.

Only the Upper Delaware is anywhere near fracking areas and NYC gets its water from the river, e.g. from rain runoff into reserviors, not from pumping wells near gas drilling.

sydney said...

The thing that worries me is that when they got legislation in Ohio passed here recently, the oil companies convinced the politicians to include a phrase that prohibits doctors from talking about the ill effects of their chemicals on the human body. They're hiding something if they feel they have to legislate gag orders on doctors.

Scott said...

I lived in Upstate NY (Binghamton) in the 80s, and have visited on and off since. The whole area is an economic wasteland, which suits the NIMBY crowd (lots of retirees in particular) and the greenies (who are terrified that the MS will put a crimp in their plans to force everyone into renewables) just fine. Those living on land with drilling opportunities (I have a few friends who are quietly getting ready to benefit) are thrilled with the idea, but ignorance and envy are being used to poison the minds (and votes) of a lot of the others...

Christy said...

Those of us who learn everything we know from prime-time TV shows learned last night from Rizzoli and Isles that fraking brings out evil former Army Rangers willing to kill to get to the oil.

mrs whatsit said...

I live smack in the middle of all this hoo-ha, on top of the Marcellus in one of the counties where Cuomo wants to allow fracking. There are gas wells all over my neighborhood, drilled in a different shale layer by a company that had big plans for future drilling in the Marcellus -- but lost so much money waiting for New York to allow it that they finally had to pull out of the state, taking their money and jobs with them. (Our drinking water's just fine, thanks.)

I think Cuomo is trying to ban fracking while appearing not to. I think he thinks no communities will allow fracking -- and I think he's right. This area has been economically depressed forever. We have little industry, few non-government employers and a big population below the poverty line. This place could be transformed by a thriving, well-regulated drilling industry, and the state DEC has a long record of safely and successfully regulating gas and oil drilling in the western part of the state. However, houses all over the area have anti-fracking signs in their yards, crowds turn out for anti-fracking movies and lectures, and several towns and at least one county have already banned fracking, even though it's not allowed here yet. People have been entirely panicked and bamboozled by "Gasland" and other propaganda from the stop-everything-that-might-make-anybody-richer-and-more-comfortable crowd. (That crowd, many of whom are pretty rich and comfortable already, gets most upset when -- as here -- the people who might get richer and more comfortable are poor.)

Anyway, I think Cuomo's playing both sides, trying to look good to the pro-development folks by appearing to allow fracking but looking even better to the Luddites by effectively preventing it.

mrs whatsit said...

And yes, Drill SGT, they're camps. There's something else to call them??