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Upstate New York's looming natural gas nightmare (about impacts on water)

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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:58 AM
Original message
Upstate New York's looming natural gas nightmare (about impacts on water)
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 12:05 PM by JoeIsOneOfUs
I've been getting a quick education about this, went to a DEC public hearing that got rather heated, and it's quite the hot topic in the Southern Tier (south-central NY state). (edit to explain water angle in title)

Article in Albany Times-Union:

Upstate New York's looming natural gas nightmare

Regulators asleep as lawmmakers attempt to declare vast acreage open to the energy industry's iffy underground fracturing technique

By ABRAHM LUSTGARTEN, ProPublica / Special to the Times Union
First published: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On May 29, top state environmental officials assured state lawmakers that plans to drill for natural gas near the watershed that supplies New York City's drinking water posed little danger.

A survey of other states had found "not one instance of drinking water contamination" from the water-intensive, horizontal drilling that would take place across New York's southern tier, the officials said.

Reassured, the legislature quickly approved a bill to streamline the permitting process for a huge influx of wells which could bring the state upwards of $1 billion in annual revenue. Gov. David Paterson has only until Wednesday to sign the bill, and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation says drilling permits could be approved in as little as 12 weeks.

But a joint investigation by ProPublica and New York City public radio station WNYC revealed hundreds of instances of drinking water contamination in states where comparable drilling has been done.

n New Mexico, oil and gas drilling using waste pits like those proposed for New York has caused toxic chemicals to leach into the water table at some 800 sites. Colorado has reported more than 300 spills affecting its ground water.

DEC officials told ProPublica and WNYC they were not aware of those incidents, even though that information could have been found through a rudimentary internet search. They apparently hadn't understood that the new drilling techniques pump trace amounts of toxic chemicals into the ground, and they couldn't say for sure how New York would dispose of the millions of gallons of hazardous fluids that are the byproducts of this type of drilling. Four days after one interview, the DEC sent a letter to the drilling companies asking for detailed information about the type and amount of chemicals they will use.

continues at link

http://www.timesunion.com/ASPStories/storyPrint.asp?Sto...
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. When I was a boy, I used to tag along with my dad...
while he did environmental impact statements for gas wells in western NY. My recollection is that although the drilling process itself was pretty messy, the bulldozing of the access roads was often a bigger area of destruction.
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. as I understand it, this is a different drilling technique than the ones out there
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 12:37 PM by JoeIsOneOfUs
There are thousands of vertical natural gas and oil wells in the far western side of New York. These wells go deeper, and then they drill horizontally to access the deposit. The formation is so tight that to get the gas out, they have to pump at least a million gallons of water with sand, surfactants, and lubricants under pressure to fracture the deep rock, and then the gas can escape.

There are big ?s about where to get the water, what to do with it afterward (it's temporarily stored in plastic-lined pits), and since it's haz waste, how to get rid of it. Right now the answer is truck it to Franklin, PA, which brings up the question of highway spills on the way there.

And yes, roads are another issue, both to the environment and the cost to towns and counties if roads are damaged by the heavy truck traffic.

This presentation from DEC has some maps and an overview of the new drilling issues:
http://blogs.cce.cornell.edu/gasleasing/files/2008/07/m...
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. there's a map here too
You have to click a couple of times to zoom in enough to have wells displayed. Definitely a lot out west, and down in PA, but less common in the area north of Binghamton.
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
4. K & R
NT
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Muttocracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
5. Paterson signed the bill; updated env. impact info to be developed
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