Charting the future of fracking

Charting the future of fracking

Dan Moulthrop
on Mar 19, 2012

The future of energy in Ohio and across the country may very well be a future built on natural gas. If that turns out to be the case, it will likely be because of the growing use of a drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. It's effective and lucrative, and it comes with some noteworthy public safety risks and hazards.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. March 19th through the afternoon of March 21st, leaders, policy makers and others will join in a three-day online discussion focused on finding a way to develop Ohio's shale gas resources in a way that maximizes economic benefit for Ohioans and minimizes environmental hazards.

Joining us for this forum are:

  • Dave Crandall, Vice President and General Counsel for Fairmount Minerals, Ltd.
  • Jeffrey Dick, Chair, Geological & Environmental Science, Youngstown State University
  • Mike Foley, State Represenative (D-14)
  • Karl Henkel, The Youngstown Vindicator
  • Heidi Hetzel Evans, Communications Manager, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Brooks Miller, Sales, Ken Miller Supply
  • John Mitterholzer, Senior Program Officer, George Gund Foundation
  • Stefanie Spear, Editor and Publisher, EcoWatch
  • Andrew Thomas, Executive in Residence, Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University
  • Brad Whitehead, President, The Fund for our Economic Future

  • The forum is moderated by Dan Moulthrop of The Civic Commons. Everyone from the community is invited to ask questions, voice concerns, offer solutions and rate the contributions of panelists and other community members. You can educate yourself on fracking with resources here. This forum is sponsored by The Youngstown Vindicator and WKYC-TV.

    On March 19th, several invited panelists were unable to participate because of technical problems with The Civic Commons website. We regret the problem.

    What do you think?

    Anonymous
    on 2014-10-21T23:55:32+00:00
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    on Dec 10, 2012
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    on Apr 06, 2012
    "Perhaps you can help me interpret ODNR abbreviations for new wells in our area.  I've been..."
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Apr 06, 2012
    "The posting program obviously doesn't like Excel files. I've made a second attempt to post the..."
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
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    "This is Gwen Fischer (I can't remember my login information for me as an individual).  I agree..."
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Apr 05, 2012
    "I have little doubt that Shale Drilling will be quite profitable for the multimillion dollar..."
    Kathryn Hanratty
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    Dan Moulthrop
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    "And, in case you missed it, the Vice President is weighing in, and, one wishes, would pay more..."
    Dan Moulthrop
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    "This seems to point to some very interesting context. The article says the five, horizontally..."
    Mike Shafarenko
    on Jul 05, 2012 - 11:45 am

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has awarded Chesapeake Exploration eight new horizontal drilling permits including one in Mahoning County.

     

    Don't forget to vote on how much tax you think oil and gas developers should pay: http://theciviccommons.com/conversations/charting-the-future-of-fracking/actions#opportunity-nav 

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Apr 04, 2012 - 11:29 am

    And, in case you missed it, the Vice President is weighing in, and, one wishes, would pay more attention to the folks who brief him. 

     

    Responses(1)

    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Apr 05, 2012

    Though Mr. Biden was not technically correct because the actual fracking at the time of drilling has not been proven to cause Earthquakes, I think all the negative attention that this statement has gotten is bogus. Just as you cannot separate problems with nuclear waste from the nuclear industry ... you cannot separate the problems with deep injection disposal of fracking waste from the Shale gas production process. It is all part of the production cradle to grave.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Apr 04, 2012 - 11:17 am
     

    Responses(7)

    Dan Moulthrop
    on Apr 04, 2012

    This seems to point to some very interesting context. The article says the five, horizontally drilled, fracked wells are 300 times more productive than traditionally drilled wells. Sounds potentially very, very profitable. 

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Apr 05, 2012

    I have little doubt that Fracking will be profitable for the Multimillion dollar industries and possibly for a few well placed locals. Probably not as profitable as the land men lead us to believe. Ultimately, I believe the issue is bigger than that... At what cost is this financial profit? Are we robbing our children and grandchildren of drinkable water to line our pockets now? Are we robbing future generations of small things that will be lost when Northeastern Ohio is full of these large industrial facilities in what was rural land? Do we even KNOW all of the ramifications of the noise, the trucks, the pipelines, the gas venting etc... Does Profit now, for a few, justify the risk for all of us?     

     
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Apr 06, 2012

    The initial production figures are impressive, however; not all that meaningful. There are three important factors that must be considered: First, the average number of production days for the five primary producers is only 135 days. Production is driven by pressure depletion and there will be significant production decline in the first year or two of production. Second, all oil and gas fields exhibit considerable spatial variation in production rates. The nine wells reporting production are restricted to a realatively small geographical area in comparison to the total potential area of the Utica play. Third, ODNR gas production numbers don't distinguish wet gas from dry gas, rather they are reported as a combined number.

    The production numbers along with some basic calculations are pasted below

    CountyWell Name/Well NumberOil (Bbls)Gas (MCF)Brine (Bbls)Production (days)Bbls Oil/dayMcf Gas/dayBbls Brine/day CarrollCALVIN MANGUN 8H 12,334322,43523,58520659.91565.2114.5 Carroll SHAW 20-14-5 5H 818010,2631174.40.0933.0 Carroll BURGETT 7-15-6 8H-RS 65402,0105130.70.0402.0 Carroll BUCEY 3H 2,167137,1922,4035340.92588.545.3 Carroll HARVEY 8H 6,096183,1429,1029266.31990.798.9 Carroll NEIDER 3H 9,444395,2909,51913072.63040.773.2 HarrisonKENNETH BUELL 8H13,4721,523,4658,93719868.07694.345.1 MahoningGEATCHES MAH 3H75808,389799.60.0106.2 PortageHOSEY POR 6H-X58301,7962029.20.089.8   46,3272,561,52476,004794551.616879.41908.1Total   5147.4512304.88444.988.261.33375.9212.0Average per Well 
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Apr 06, 2012

    The posting program obviously doesn't like Excel files. I've made a second attempt to post the file to share.

     
    Nancy Reeves
    on Apr 06, 2012

    Perhaps you can help me interpret ODNR abbreviations for new wells in our area.  I've been exploring the Oil and Gas Database at the ODNR, in an attempt to sort out rumors that are running rampant in our community about what they are, and I've been unable to find a glossary.

    Permits for 4 wells have been issued within the last year (34153231320000, 34153231340000, 34153231340000, 34153231350000).  From the map and the permits at least three are for directional wells (running slightly SW, NE, and SE about 1000 feet each). 

    What I haven't been able to determine is what "SO" means, as a Purpose, or what "UX2" or "UC2" means as part of the "directionally urban" well type.

    Any wisdom (either about the terms used, or what might be going on)?

     

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Apr 05, 2012

    I have little doubt that Shale Drilling will be quite profitable for the multimillion dollar industries and for a few well placed locals too. But, at what cost does this profit for so few come? Are we selling away the drinking water for our children or grandchilren? Do we even know what the true costs are while we count the silver... hmmm interesting question on today of all days.

     
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Apr 05, 2012

    This is Gwen Fischer (I can't remember my login information for me as an individual).  I agree with Kathryn.  I want to add that we know the gas will run out.  When you look at the production decline curves for the first year or two, you can see that, without re-fracking (i.e., using even more water and turning it into waste) production drops dramatically.  This means that, to keep the gas flowing, they'll have to keep our neighborhoods an industrial zone, with endless trucks, diesel fumes.  We also know that pipelines and compressor stations and separators and other industrial plants.  When the gas runs out, we, who live in our houses that have no value (because they are no longer set in farmlands, but in industrial areas), will be left with rusting infrastructure, probably leaking pipelines, and Aubrey McClendon and his ilk will not be living in our neighborhoods.  Any local jobs will be gone, with no replacement energy----shale gas is not a transition fuel, it is a bridge to nowhere.

     

     
    Expand This Thread
    Sam Bell
    on Mar 22, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    There really is a single, simple answer to almost every environmental conundrum.  Require that after appropriate treatment, all liquid waste products be discharged into the producer’s water source, upstream of his water intake.  Prohibit the import or use of other water, and require the producer to drink from the water source at least one quart per day.  For solid waste products, again after appropriate treatment, the producer must use them as additions to his garden soil, from which he must eat two servings daily.  For airborne waste, require that discharge must be upwind of the producers home and business according to prevailing winds.  As you will see, this rapidly becomes self-enforcing.  Laws similar to this are already in force in some Scandinavian jurisdictions.

     
    Melanie Houston
    on Mar 21, 2012 - 6:27 pm

    Here is a nice blog which offers both the critiques and counterpoints of the Duke University study, which found 17 times higher methane levels within drinking water wells at houses within 1 km proximity to hydro-fracking drilling activities. It is worthwhile to look at the debate among scientists before dismissing the study as "biased." Contrary to claims that I've heard made, the study was in fact peer reviewed and has been cited 44 times since it was published, which is not a small number of citations for the amount of time it has been published. Of course we all decide whether to reject or accept information depending on whether it fits nicely within our own values and belief systems. I urge folks to dig a little deeper and to expose themselves to information that actually contradicts their own beliefs about the merits and shortcomings of this new technology.

     

     

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 21, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    I think some of the compromise suggestions may be worth pursuing, or, at minimum, bringing up with the appropriate people. As I stated above, I think that getting some Republican lawmakers to be a part of the conversation would be exceedingly helpful. Any assistance that anyone involved in the conversation can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    At any rate, as we near the final afternoon of this forum, I want to say that we very much appreciate the time and attention that everyone has devoted to this. Though the official "panel" concludes this afternoon, anyone and everyone are welcome to continue to discuss these issues here in this conversation, in other conversations here at the Commons (start a new one, if you like!), and at any of the public events that are coming up. If you know of any events that others should be aware of, please post them here. 

    Also, I just got off the phone with Heidi at ODNR who assured me she is, right now, organizing answers to many of the questions and concerns raised here. 

    Some of you may be wondering exactly what we've accomplished here. First and foremost, everyone who participated--panelists and community members alike--have done yeoman's work in helping to educate our community. And all of you have helped spread great ideas about compromise, concerns, engagement opportunities, and the possible futures that Ohio may face. 

    On another note, it's conversations like these that demonstrate that informed, productive civil dialogue about hot button issues is possible.

    Also, we're constantly trying to figure out how to improve The Civic Commons. If you have feedback, please email me: danmoulthrop@theciviccommons.com.  

     

    Responses(3)

    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 22, 2012

    There is no compromise, as I stated before, you're either for fracking or you're against it. Judy Bonds, a powerful Appalachian woman who recently passed away, had a great saying, "There's only two sides to strip mining, for or against, and if you keep sitting on that fence, you're going to get splinters."

     
    Mark W. Schumann
    on Dec 10, 2012

    It's been nine months, Dan. Has "Heidi at ODNR" actually provided those answers?

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Dec 10, 2012

    she did post some towards the top. 

     
    Expand This Thread
    Bill Weber
    on Mar 21, 2012 - 8:32 am

    I have a couple of questions, and a concern.  First question, A company will be doing sonic testing in Ashtabula county, covering an 18 square mile area using explosive charges buried between 20-30 ft deep for a geological profile.  Isn't ther a less disruptive technique for this??  My concern is the reproduction of wildlife at this time of year.  The amphibians, and migrating birds, bats, etc..

    Second question, we all see the damage salt does to bridge infrastructure, are there any standards as to the quality and/or composition of the concrete used to case the fracking and injection wells??    And, lastly, I am not against the recovery of gas in Ohio, I just want to make sure it is properly regulated, monitored, and enforced.  All the regulations in the world are worthless, if the "properly trained manpower" are not available.  There will be a rally in Chardon Square this Saturday from 12:30 t 3:30 for those interested.

    Thank you, Bill Weber

     

    Responses(5)

    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 21, 2012

    I'm surprised they are using explosive charges as vibroseis is most commonly used and non-disruptive. There are specific standards and regulations for well casing cement composition and placement used in production and class 2 injection wells. I underlined production merely to make the point that there is no such thing as a fracking well. 

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Dr. Jeffrey,

    May I ask what makes the Vibroseis non-disruptive? All studies I have read have stated the opposite: that in either the sonic vibration of the "thumper trucks" or the use of underground explosives, result in wildlife disruption. This does seem the more logical answer seeing as the purpose of either one is to create sonic waves to map the subsurface. Sonic waves will undoubtedly have a profound affect on the local wildlife. From my studies, yes the Vibrosis is preferred for its less extensive damage, but it is also more expensive.

     

     

     
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Vibroseis simply vibrates the ground through a series of changing frequencies. It is far less disruptive than a dynamite blast. In my experience, it causes about the same amount of ground surface vibration as a bulldozer operating a few hunder feet away.

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Thanks for your expertise. 

    How much Subsurface vibration does it cause? And how much of an effect does it have on local wildlife? Have comprehensive studies been completed on this?

    No doubt I would prefer to see the use of the thumpers as opposed to dynamite, as that is far more detrimental, but I would think that the vibrations are quite a disturbance to wildlife, and it is known that any seismic activity will deter wildlife from the area since they are much more sensitive to seismic activity. Wildlife would not understand the difference between seismic drill testing and an actual earthquake, right?

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Not to beat a dead horse on this point, but I would add to "properly trained manpower" that we must include "highly compensated" to our regulatory staff.  We have to improve this workforce rapidly, train them, and then pay them well enough to retain them, because the industry will hire away the best of them quickly.   When I was working in the Gulf Coast region, it was generally understood that the best engineers, geologists, chemists, physicists, lawyers and accountants all went to work for the industry.   Neither the state nor the federal government provided competitive salaries.   Last year Marietta College placed nearly 100% of its graduates from the school of petroleum engineering, with a starting salary of around $95,000/year.   It is easy to see how disruptive this might be to the state regulatory agencies when big salaries are being added to just this one agency.   But it needs to be done, and the costs therefore need to be passed through directly to the oil and gas operators.  They will fight about it, but in the end they will happily pay these costs; the oil and gas industry wants properly trained and well compensated regulators. 

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 21, 2012 - 5:54 am

    We are entering day 3 of this forum, and I have to say, it's gone incredibly well. We've seen some strong interest here in a meaningful statewide education and engagement process, and for northeast Ohioans, an opportunity at The City Club of Cleveland is coming up March 30, featuring the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Ohio Environmental Council. It's a Friday forum, so that means it will be broadcast on radio and television, which will help. It's the first of several City Club events focused on shale development being planned (a link is below), but, we hope is just one element of the kind of statewide effort that's been proposed here.

    With that in mind, my question to the panel and the community is this: What are the compromises you'd like to see explored?

    When you answer this, think about the compromises that could be explored in the General Assembly and the Governor's office; in how the industry works and what industry trade groups are asking for; and in what environmental groups are seeking. Think also about whether any side you align with might concede some ground.

        

     

    Responses(16)

    Gwen B. Fischer
    on Mar 21, 2012

    This is Gwen (aka Concerned Citizens Ohio) I'm back onto my greatest concern, which I see as impossible to "fix" no matter how good the cement job is, no matter how ethical the company is, no matter how slowly and carefully in industry works----high volume, horizontal shale hydrofracture drilling with multiple laterals requires more than 10 times the industrial disruption of an area.  Since the gas/oil is everywhere throughout the shale, wells must be drilled everywhere.  True, they're condensed with up to twelve wells on a pad, but the pads are 4-8 acres (I've seen some figures larger than that).  With 4,000 wells predicted in the next four years for Ohio, that means tens of thousands of acres of land that was once froest, fields and perhaps productive farmland covered with impermeable surface.  Each of the well pads, requires access roads, pipelines, compressor stations as well as "pig" launching sites, and other monitoring  sites.  Then, as has been mention before, we are taking billions of gallons of water out of the water cycle, as well as using up how much energy (in diesel trucks, compressors, etc.) in order to extract this energy.  Financial Analyst Deborah Rogers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYzU4bEfJ5U&feature=channel_video_titlehttps://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/133e5ce4df6ec16b    ) says we'll have to get on a drilling "treadmill" in order for this petroleum extraction to be economically viable.  Meanwhile, we're not working on renewable energy, instead building more and more big rigs and other infrastructure good for nothing else, but this deep, destructive shale gas and oil extraction.

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 21, 2012

    This brings to mind my first "compromise" suggestion, as our moderator requested.  I share Gwen's concern that development of shale just encourages business as usual.  We made this mistake in the late 1980's when oil and gas prices crashed, and we abandoned work on clean energy, and started buying SUVs.     I like Governor Kasich's severance tax increase proposal, but how about earmarking some of these funds for clean energy development in Ohio?   If we want to transition from oil to cleaner fuels, we need to build infrastructure for CNG refueling, electric car recharging, and ultimately hydrogen.  Oil and natural gas liquids could be used for the petrochemical business, rather than as fuels for transportation.   Governor Kasich's energy plan includes, for instance, a plan for developing CNG refueling structure, but does not include a plan for paying for it.  I understand his ideology is that wherewithal follows from a strong economy.    But he could go a long way towards getting the environmentalists on board with an aggressive shale development program if he tied it directly to a transition to a clean energy economy.  

     
    Gwen B. Fischer
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Andrew, let me add to your comment that the fracture engineer, Professor Anthony Ingraffea made a suggestion in one of his talks that, since we don't need the gas right now, and the industry is still experimenting, as this deep shale drilling in the eastern U.S. geology and water shed geography is pretty new, how about allowing each drilling company ONE permit for the first year.  Then the 30 field inspectors could watch them like a hawk, and the companies that do the best jobs get more permits the next year?  We'll still have many of the problems I outlined earlier, but the impact and mistakes will at least be cut down.  There is no rush and right now, we're gearing up to send a lot of this gas overseas.  Where's the energy independence?

     
    Jill Miller Zimon
    on Mar 21, 2012

    FWIW, I see the approach to compromise in the case of fracking as requiring us to  address the space between the risk aversion and the risk seeking involved in the activity.

    The risk seekers see or imagine a reward that is worth the risk, even if the risk comes to happen.  Meanwhile, those who are risk averse prioritize the preservation of that which could be lost, over the perceived reward, if the activity is pursued. 

    So compromise could include literally defining the floor of the reward for the risk seekers (profit) and the maximum loss the risk aversive group would be willing to tolerate (environmental hazards, property destruction) all in exchange for the rewards that they can agree could be reaped (energy independence) from the activity involved.

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Yes Andrew, I agree that if natural gas is going to be developed then it should be taxed to help transition our state, nation, toward a renewable energy future.  We've tried to get this dialogue out there but it has not been well received.

    In addition to taxing the natural gas industry to help expedite a renewable energy future, we also need to bring back state incentives like the Advanced Energy Fund that helped level the playing field between renewables and fossil fuels, and encourage the investment in distributed generation projects.  This is vital if we truly want to generate more power from renewables.  The fossil fuel industry is so highly subsidized and externalilzes its true costs, that it is impossible for renewables to compete with out incentives.

    The Advanced Energy Fund sunsetted a year and a half ago.  We worked really hard to get it renewed, but with the change over in the governor's administration and Ohio assembly we couldn't get it through.  Ohio has a strong renewable portfolio standard (SB 221, Ohio's energy bill), but with out the Advanced Energy Fund it will be difficult to maintain those standards and there are elected officials who want to dilute the RPS.

    Three years ago, I truly thought our state and nation was finally ready to move in the right direction with a federal energy bill and carbon tax, but once the fossil fuel/nonrenewable energy industry, realized this direction they immediately poured tons of cash into the election and bought any candidate for sale.  Then with the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling, we just can't seem to get away from corporations being allowed to own our politicians.

    We need to get money out of politics and work on the solutions that will provide a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.  Ruthlessly going after every last drop of fossil fuels is not the right direction for our state or country.

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Andrew and Stefanie--that's a strong idea, and one I will try to put out there when I moderate the City Club conversation. What's clear to me is that we very much need state Representatives Ron Amstutz and Bill Batchelder in this broader conversation. Something to work on.

     
    Anne Caruso
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Gwen, your point about needing to drill everywhere is my main concern. Many people think of the natural gas and oil underfoot in terms of oil in Saudi Arabia - an ocean of oil or gas to be sipped up. This image is perpetuated when we hear that Ohio has an ocean of natural gas to be tapped. The reality of extracting from Marcellus (under about one third of Ohio) and Utica ( under 100% of Ohio) is that the industrial enterprise of extracting shale oil and gas will impact every other economic activity in the state, especially when there is talk of 100 years of this activity. I am very concerned that we will injure our farming, recreational, residential, and scenic interests in an attempt to pursue this one resource. Ohio was set to be a leader in solar panel production and wind energy component production. These industries don't threaten every other aspect of life in Ohio, yet we rolled out the red carpet for shale oil and gas knowing the dangers and impacts. Comments by industry reps above admit that there is danger of cement failure in the well casings that protect our aquifers over time. The loss of local control put in place in 2004 I feel was an attempt to make it easy for the drillers to have access everywhere. It makes me wonder if anyone is looking out for the public good. 

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Gwen--is there an amount of shale development that would be tolerable to you, or is any fracking too much fracking?

     
    Gwen B. Fischer
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Hi Dan,

    I used to think that with proper regulations and oversight drilling could be done safely.  However, if the industry is going to drill four thousand wells in the next four years, and each requires 800-1000 trucks, and several risk assessments (even some in the industry) suggest that past records in other states predict 1%-2% (some even up to 4%) pollution of underground water supplies, it cannot be done in an acceptably safe way.  To put what sounds like a small percentage for a terrible risk (not being able to drink or even shower with water from our taps) into perspective, I found one estimate that if the domestic airline industry had a 1% failure rate (i.e., 1% domestic flights crashed) we would have over 200 crashes a day.  Is that acceptable?  I don't think it is acceptable if 2%-4% of "well projects. . .will pollute local ground-water over the short term. Serious regulatory violation rates will exceed twelve percent." (63.134.196.109/documents/RiskAssessmentNaturalGasExtraction.pdf  ) .

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 22, 2012

    I think you bring to light the same thoughts many of us have. When I first started delving into this issue over a year ago, I tried to view it objectively. I also tried to believe more regulation was the answer. The farther I delved, the more I realized this is a really bad idea. You can see our video that attempted unbiased research here: http://vimeo.com/23605071

    Please bear in mind this was a very amatuer video! As well, it is in HD so it may take a moment to load.

    The further we looked, the more it came to light that although the industry does need more regulations due to all the loopholes they have been given throughout the years, this method should be regulated to the point of a complete ban. I am not anti jobs, anti energy, or wanting to live in a cave (OK, maybe I do want to live in a cave, but I do like hot water!) Instead, I am pro clean energy, which can provide for clean jobs as well.

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 21, 2012

    I, personally, do not believe this is much of subject to be compromising. This drilling boom is a bad plan, and I wish.. well, it matters little what I wish. But, that being said, let me throw out a couple of ideas.

    Highly industrialized activities will bring highly polluted areas. This is barring any accidents, and at this point in technology it is unavoidable.

    I would love to see all cities where drilling, refinieries, injection wells, receive free environmental toxicity screenings for all residents, starting now and extending for the life of their inhabitancy.

    All areas with drilling should also receive water, air, and soil quality monitoring, with the results being public. Not just one test, but cosistent monitoring.

    All areas with drilling need to have their EMTs, paramedics, firemen, and police, fully trained to handle all potential hazards of the industry. 

    The residents of these areas all need the opportunity to attend a safety seminar with how to deal with any accidents that may occur near them.

    The technology to mitigate issues from blowouts and other common accidents needs developed prior to continuing witht the drilling.

    A plan needs developed for a determining situation that would halt all drilling.  

    A comprehensible, public document needs developed outlining the industry's plan for the area for the next 50 years.

    And too be honest - federal regulations need set. States should not be governing themselves in this situation. Some states allow the dumping of toxic waste in rivers and we all share the water.

    Again, I do not feel that compromise is a viable option. We are compromising our healths, the healths of children, and the health of our planet, for a short term boom in economics. That is one hell of a trade off in my opinion. But, if it is determined to be a "necessary evil" then there needs to be major advances in tracking and mitigating the pollution effects that will occur, and advances in safety training by civil servants. 

     

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 21, 2012

    These people are going to do things the same way heerer they have all the way from Eastern PA to Ca. They sure aren't going to do things right because some ignorant hicks in 'Fly Over' Country are worried.

    There is no compromise. We have no say in this.

    The talking part is over.

    It was a good idea to discuss this, but the industry and regulating agencies don't give a crap about us, all they care about is money.

    Thanks for hacing us. Might as well consider the gauntlet well and truly dropped on this one. Game on.

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Can I borrow this Tonya!  Your posts mirror the thoughts of most folks I have spoken to about fracking - they are common sense and the MINIMUM protection we should demand from our elected representatives! 

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Of course LeAnne. For some reason common sense and logic seem to go amiss when money gets involved. Again, to me, common sense is no drilling - put the money in alternative fuels. Like why not pay everyone to put up solar panels and have the energy go to the grid? (solar has its own issues, i know but you get my drift) 

     

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 25, 2012

    I would really like the industry to agree to repeal the exemptions that they enjoy due to the Haliburton loophole.

    I would like to see FULL disclosure on all accidents and incidents,  including in detail what happened, the cause and the action taken. This should be be public record. The information should be provided on records going back at least 20 years and be in effect for ALL future drilling.

    The industry should pay for base line water sampling and well testing by an independent contractor prior to any drilling and then again periodic sampling and well tests as long as the well is in production for every property within a 2 mile radius of any well.

    There should be detectors at every well site to check for environmentally harmful emissions of any kind. The results of those readings should be public record.

    These things should be counted as a cost of doing business. If they cannot operate profitably with this kind of monitoring - then they should not be in business.

     

     

     

     

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 25, 2012

    The amount of water used and the dangers to our water posed by the waste fluids make this nearly impossible to compromise.

    I believe we really need to take a time out to address this issue before we can go farther.

     

     
    Expand This Thread
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Oil and gas companies have contractual obligations to drill.   Leases typically require drilling within a five year window, and some are as little as two to three years, or they are terminated.    There are some 3 million acres of leaseholds on the clock in Ohio.  If the oil and gas companies do not drill, they lose billions of dollars in lease bonuses payed to Ohio landowners.   It takes several months to drill a new well.  They cannot possibly drill all their acreage if they do not move with alacrity.    Of course, this is a private contract issue that has no bearing on the public good, and the public policy makers should not consider this if they see a potential public health problem.    But you asked what the hurry was -- from the oil and gas company perspective, they lose their investment if they don't move forward quickly.   That is why they are in a hurry. 

     

    Responses(3)

    Sam Bell
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Andrew, I do understand the contractual issues.  The old saying was “Marry in haste; repent at leisure,” and I think it might turn out to be apropos here.  As to private contract rights, I have no more problem with them than you would if I decided it was my right to burn tires at my private lighthouse on Lake Erie to fulfill my contractual obligations to members of my night-sailing club.  So long as it doesn’t pollute the air we all breathe, the water we all drink, or the soil which nourishes us all, a private contract between the landowner and the gas company is fine with me.  (Actually, I’d probably get a bit miffed if it upset the stability of my bedrock, too, in all honesty.)  I wonder how many oil company executives would be willing to live on land where an active fracking well is in operation.  How about if they were required to drink a quart of water from a well on the premises, every day?  How many would move there with their families if they, too, had to drink the local water?   Too bad that we, not being parties to their contracts, cannot negotiate such a condition. 

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 21, 2012

    You're right Andrew. The term for it is "held by production" and is usually an explicit clause in a lease.

     
    Anne Caruso
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Is it true that as long as equipment to drill is put on the property the company is free to continue with their lease, even if there isn't any acutal drilling? If so, then the lease can continue indefinitely even is no drilling is actually begun.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Sam Bell
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    Perhaps the biggest question should be this: What’s the rush?If this gas is such a valuable resource, won’t its value increase over time?  (When, with more accumulated experience, we might do a little better job of extraction?)I concur with those who recognize that the true cost of energy is not reflected by current market prices.  Depletion allowances, defense expenditures, and a variety of externalities (of both positive and negative impact) combine to distort prices, generally by depressing them. 

     

    Responses(3)

    Brad Whitehead
    on Mar 20, 2012

    While you may have exactly the right point on timing, I wonder if the issue is as much about a  commitment to a structured public dialogue about what we collectively want to occur and how (given the best available science and economic data).  If ever there was a big issue that merited direct public involvement, this would seem to be it.  I know some of our public officials would say that we elect them to make these decisions on our behalf (and we can re-elect them or throw them out depending upon what they do); however, I think this is one of those issues where we need reasoned, broad-based dialogue around choices -- with a direct connection to those making policy.

     
    Sam Bell
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Brad,I’m entirely in favor of public debate and am grateful to the Civic Commons for providing this forum.I think, however, that only in the context of an examination of our entire regional, national, and world energy use policies can we begin to make sensibly informed decisions.  If we would devote as much time, money, and intellectual effort to researching and  developing alternative energy sources as we currently do to subsidizing energy extraction, we might just be able to come up with some long-term solutions.  Our current compartmentalized head-in-the-sand approach perpetuates all the worst aspects of our current dependence on fossil fuels while adding at least the potential for more environmental degradation.  I think we can do better. 

     
    Daryl Rowland
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Brad, I agree that bringing large numbers of citizens into the conversation can help balance environmental and industrial interests, but as Ibsen pointed out in Enemy of the People (1882), sometimes citizens can be manipulated by powerful financial interests to support dangerous policy. I think the best hope is for environmentalists and thoughtful citizens to publicly force industry to think more long-term and make better choices now to avoid lawsuits or draconian regulation in the future.  A relentless campaign to win the hearts and minds of Ohio's citizens would likely be more effective than any regulatory solutions and better for industry as well. Industry will no doubt spend money on a public relations effort to support unregulated fracking.  it is critical that a countervailing effort be maintained by concerned citizens to demand a responsible and civic-minded approach to harvesting natural gas.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    A couple of questions for the panelists:

    When negative environmental impacts occur - by normal industrial activity, or by accidents - who is responsible to fix the problems, and what physical practices are in place to remediate the situation? Can the air quality be fixed? Or the water quality improved? Who is responsible for the monitoring of this situation?

    Another question. Has it yet been determined what is happening with the 165 cubic feet of radioactive drill cuttings that need disposed of per well?

    Thank you in advance for your expertise.

     

    Responses(1)

    Timothy Francisco
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Tonya, A lot of this depends on putting solid policies in place before the drilling begins. In Texas, we spoke with a council member in Arlington where they have funded an Emergency response team from the licensing fees they are charging drillers---her biggest regret is that they did not do it sooner.

     
    Expand This Thread
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    I wonder if anyone could comment on why there is an urgency to develop this resource right now, when there are clearly so many unknowns, the process in borderline experimental, and the asset is likely sitting at or near the lowest price it will ever command? Is the gas going anywhere in a hurry? In a decade or two I'd guess there will be processes in place that will mitigate or eliminate the majority of the environmental concern. What am I missing? What's the downside to waiting?

     

    Responses(12)

    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Profits.  With an increased world demand for energy, there's a ton of money to be made on the development of natural gas.  Natural gas can generate electricity, power vehicles, make plastics, etc. There's a huge demand for it, especially as we've mined almost all of the easy to get to oil and coal and have resorted to blowing up the tops of mountains to get to the remaining coal seams.

    We've already blown up more than 500 mountaintops in Appalachia to power our homes and businesses.  Now we're willing to drill 8,000 feet below the earth's surface to mine natural gas with only taking into account the short-term economic value of this process.  What's happened to all the talk about sustainability where we're suppose to take the three p's—people, planet, profit—into account, not just the profit part?

    To understand the long-term impact of fracking on an economy or community, all you have to do is look at the promise that coal has brought to the appalachian region of our country, our neighbors. 

    Here's an excert from a piece I wrote for Huffington Post: Will Natural Gas Become the ‘Achilles’ Heel’ of Our Country?

    Just take a moment to look at the Appalachian region of the U.S. There you’ll find the most impoverished communities in America where companies profited greatly by extracting natural resources at the expense of exploiting its people and destroying the environment, leaving generations in decades-long, structural poverty. The region is still fighting these battles as mountaintop removal coal mining continues to destroy communities and make people sick.

    Actually you should read the piece I posted on EcoWatch.org as it has the extended version:

    Will Natural Gas Become the ‘Achilles’ Heel’ of Our Country?

    Does that help answer your question? It's complete greed with no thoughts to future generations—our children and our grandchildren's future!

     
    Policy Matters Ohio
    on Mar 21, 2012

    To chime in on the question of what the rush is - I think the answer is actually a bit more complicated.  Oil and gas companies are not making money off most of the shale gas they're extracting right now becasue prices are so low (prices are under $4/cubic foot, and one oil/gas industry economist told me they need to be over $7/cubic foot to turn a profit). Under normal circumstances, you might expect the industry to slow down like OPEC does - especially since more gas production further drives down the price. But here are a couple candidate explanations for why they're still moving ahead so quickly (these are my best guesses - not cut-and-dry facts):

    a) they're looking for shale oil, which is more valuable than shale gas

    b) as some commentators below suggest, their contracts will run out soon, so even if they lose money by drilling, they stand to lose even more money by not drilling on land they've already paid for. Existing debt obligations and the need for cash flow to meet those obligations also drives urgency here.

    c) the industry doesn't want to lose this moment of political hype. If they continue the hype, the process will continue, and we'll reach a certain threshold of technology lock-in - i.e. we'll have a certain infrastructural dependence on shale gas that will last a number of decades, by which point the prices of natural gas in the US may have risen again

    d) if the industry can develop a cost-effective way to liquify and export natural gas, we can sell it in asian and european markets, where prices are higher than in the US.

    My best guess is that some combination of these four variabels play a role. But for the present, shale gas drilling's lack of profitability is a huge problem for the industry. The major oil/gas companies are selling off billions in assets to try and meet their debt obligations.

    Also, Dan rased the question of taxes and revenue above, suggesting it's a topic for further discussion in the future.  Anyone who's interested should feel free to check out this report from Wendy Patton at Policy Matters, which has some helpful details and policy suggestions on the topic: http://www.policymattersohio.org/beyond-boom-dec2011

     

    Tim Krueger

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 20, 2012

    As Stephanie mentioned - money is the motivator. Also the industry is well aware that negative environmental impacts will happen and people will start speaking out against them. By moving quickly the industry is able to entrench itself deeper into the local economies and make their presence a more permanent and acceptable situation.

    We are at a crux of economic change and we are deciding, right now, how that change is going to occur. We can continue to rely on mined hydrcarbons for our daily conveniences and for our economic growth, at the expense of our environment, or we can abolish unsustainable practices and move forth with a new system. Remeber, hydrocarbons (gas, oil, coal, etc.) are what are economy is currently based on. It is a major component of why wars are waged, provides the energy necessary in order to wage those wars, and what provides the trinkets and conveniences of "modern living" that make the everyday person turn a blind eye to this fact.

    Once upon a time our economy was based on slavery. It was difficult to abolish that practice and change to a more sustainable system then, and it will be difficult to make that shift now, but it is a necessary hardship for the betterment of society.

    That is my 2 cents on why there is an urgency to this method.

     
    Chris Cotelesse
    on Mar 20, 2012

    The profits only exist because there is demand for the product. If Americans didn't consume energy in great quantities, the cost would be lower and demand would fall.

     
    Doug Livingston
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Darrel, horizontal drilling is 15 years old and hydraulic fracturing is about 70 years old. The methods are by no means experimental. Drilliing densely populated areas, however, is still a learning process for oil and gas companies as well as local municipalities.

    It is natural gas that is relatively experimental. We have to consider that natural gas was flared or vented and treated as a nuisance when drilling for oil not too long ago. It is now a viable source of energy, but the market flooded too quickly. Consumers and operators will eventually reach an equilibrium where gas and oil meet their respective demands. This means cultivating alternative uses for natural gas and increasing natural gas exports to countries like China, which offers around $18 per mcf compared to domestic prices around $2.25 per mcf. And, of course, exploring alternative energy and lowering consumption.

    While higher natural gas prices in 2008 pushed for increased production, the industry has curtailed drilling in dry gas plays following the declining market value and is shifting toward wet gas and oil plays, which hold steady or increasing values.

    Tonya, as nice as abolishing fossil fuels sounds, outlawing them would decrease civility in countries that are heavily dependant on them. Also, without global agreement on consumption, a unilateral shift by any country to decrease usage would put that country at the behest of those who choose to continue producing and exporting fossil fuels.

    Stefanie, your inclination that greed is the driving force is rational conclusion to make. These businesses are vulnerable, as many have leveraged themselves with debt to complete the leases they have already signed. If companies like Chesapeake hold true to their investment forecasts, then they will begin to pay down on this debt and increase liquidity. This should bring stability to an industry that may have been overzealous in some practices, such as overestimating the short-term worth of natural gas.

    And back to Darrel ... the downside to waiting is the recession. Mounting debt will not allow for idle business. But it gets worse. As America gets back to work, demand for these fossil fuels will climb. While this may not affect prices, it will most definately affect consumption, which is at the heart of sustainability.

     

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Great, well thought out response Doug. Thanks.

    My point about HVHF being experimental is not that the constituent individual technologies are experimental. Not at all. But I think it is accurate to say that a new combination of existing technologies does result in something new. In this case, there are several new implications of the combination of technologies, but the "most new" thing about it is that there has never been an industrial process removing this kind of volume of fresh water from the regional environment, nor producting anything like this volume of low level toxic waste. Correct me if you don't agree with that. The scale is what makes it new, and it really is a "systemic" experiment. I think the (as far as I know) completely unpredicted and new consequence of the injection well earthquakes certainly speaks to this point.

    Two other points I don't understand here: In response to Tonya, you are saying that a country decreasing USEAGE puts itself at risk somehow? I don't get that. Unless you meant to say "production." But in that case, are countries like Switzerland somehow in more grave danger than say Nigeria, because they have no domestic production? I think the reality of extractive industries of all types is that they actually destabilize economies and regimes simply by their boom and bust nature. A workforce or economy significantly dedicated to resource extraction has not been a sign of social health by any means, I think we can agree. The fact is there are two ends to the fossil fuel production and consumption leash. It's not at all clear from a national perspective which end is best to be on.

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Darryl, I do not believe I explicitly pointed to domestic usage of hydrocarbon as an economic crux - I believe you may be responding to Doug - however, it is. I do not want to delve deep into economics here, but unless we actually have a system in place to replace hydrocarbons, the consumption of these products is a major player in our economy, and a shift away from their usage would result in a necessary revamping of our economic plan.

    Doug, we may have a difference in opinion regarding "civility". Regardless, we can make a drastic shift, and should. It would be difficult, but that is a geat thing about Americans, we are historically innovative and resourceful. Even just putting our resources into building companies like Jewel Unlimited, where hydrocarbons are being produced in a lab, would be a better alternative to our current methods in my opinion. We would only be vulnerable if as a nation we still relied on fossil fuels without actually producing them. There are many cities globally that have switched to alternative fuel sources that are not only supplying their own energy needs, but then profitting by selling excess energies back to the energy grid.

     
    Doug Livingston
    on Mar 22, 2012

    The water usage and earthquakes are serious issues.

    While in Texas, the News Outlet visited a Trinity Park, where water was piped from a river last summer to feed a frack job. Less than ten miles away, a large sign still adorns a fence surrounding a water tower. The sign read, "Water restrictions in effect. Know your watering days...", referring to the draught last year.

    While Fort Worth limited water usage by residents, the industry continued to use the water for fracking. But to be fair, reports on water usage consistently find that fracking in Texas accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of total usage, and projections estimate that number will not exceed 2 percent.

    One goof thing: we're seeing more oil and gas companies recycling waste water, but this is relatively new.

    As far as waste: Ohio and Texas are unique in the amount of waste water they receive from out-of-state sources. With about about 10 Class II wells in PA and NY, the majority of brine and waste is shipped to Ohio. And when NY commences drilling, Ohio will see even more waste water injected into the state's 177 or so injection wells. Texas houses about 55,000 of the nation's 156,000 Class II wells. Yet the city of Fort Worth, located in a county that produced 10 times more natural gas than the state of Ohio, has banned injection wells since about 2006/2007.

    Tonya, like you've reiterated ... money is the motivator. I don't want to digress into a discussion on the global impact of natural gas production, but drastic reduction is simply not politically or comercially viable RIGHT NOW. Consider the plummeting natural gas prices following 2008. This would not have happened had alternate uses, like CNG vehicles, had been developed prior to surging production. Much like gas wells completed before a pipeline exists to transport it, the industry wasn't positioned to handle the product in the amount that it was being pumped out. The boom and bust that disrupts the economy can be alleviated by diversifying the uses for natural gas. Had these other uses been cultivated by 2008, demand would have sustained the unprecedented levels of production.

    Now, I'm not saying that we should perpetuate the use of fossil fuels, but there is a lesson to be learned from natural gas operators who may have put the cart before the horse. The lesson being: if we explore alternative, green and sustainable energy sources, then we should have a comprehensive infrastructure in place to use that source. This means converting and updating existing technology to adapt to new fuel sources.

     
    Gwen B. Fischer
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Hi Doug,

    Whenever we talk about fracking water use, we must keep firmly in mind that it is not equal to, say golf course watering, or other such uses.  Fracking water that is reused, will eventually become so toxic it can no longer be used, even for fracking.  It will have concentrations of radioactivity.  In any case, the safest thing to do with it is to dispose of it deep underground, just hoping (because nobody knows) that it will never re-enter the water cycle, on which all life on earth depends.  Then, too, we must remember that we are not only turning huge areas which were once forests, agricultural lands into industrial areas "temporarily" (that is, for the 10-20 years during which the drilling of thousands of wells will take place).  And, one more aspect, is that during that 10-20 years, the industry will be investing in infrastructure that is useful ONLY for deep shale drilling---big rigs, pipelines, compressor stations, separators, etc.  The graphs I've seen of deep shale well production shows dramatic drop-offs in the first 1-5 years.  I think several people have mentioned the estimates of the amount of recoverable gas/oil have been revised downward ---some would say to about 20 years worth at current rates of use.  Meanwhile, all the investment is NOT going into renewables or even conservation.  Meanwhile, we who chose to live in our city, village, or countryside will have to live with deteriorating infrastructure, air pollution of thousands of diesel trucks and machinery, etc., etc.

     
    Doug Livingston
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Gwen, I'm glad you have injected land reclamation and use into the conversation. The industry has told me that three to five acre well pads can be reduced to one or two acres during the production phase. The bulk of my recent research has been in the Barnett Shale region of north Texas. City officials there are struggling to find practical uses for land after the well, which industry estimates will have a life of 30 years each, have been used up. The city of Fort Worth must find a viable use for 1,600 well sites, which constitute nearly 5,000 acres of city land if calculated at a 3-acre estimate.

    The Texas region is currently bulding on plugged oil wells. I did not have a chance to find out how they are doing so. But this practice is something to observe and study BEFORE Ohio's cities permit wells.

    A side note, which for better or worse may be appealing to some of our post-industrial Ohio communities, is that the city of Fort Worth and drillers have found common ground in blighted land. They call it "brown land." It serves no purpose to the city, and has been leased for oil and gas exploration. I'm not advocating for 30+ years of gas wells in our cities, but simply making an observation that could be enticing to the more desolate neighborhoods of northeast Ohio.

    Though Texas and Ohio cultures are worlds apart when it comes to drilling in neighborhoods, the neighbors of gas wells in Texas that we spoke with had mixed feelings. Many opposed to drilling were not natives of Texas. Many in favor of drilling grew up in Texas.

     
    Nancy Reeves
    on Mar 23, 2012

    If I understand you correctly, you make an important point.

    Pre 2008, natural gas production increased at a pace which exceeded demand, driving the prices down.  As a result, existing energy using devices were converted to take advantage of the cheap and plentiful natural gas that had no market.  Shutting off gas production now would mean these devices which were created to take advantage of a glut would become very large doorstops (or at a minimum extremely costly to operate because shutting off production would create a shortage of the energy needed to run them).

    In essence, by failing to do comprehensive planning (acquisition, preparing for use, transporting, and ultimate use) back before production was so high we created the "monster" which drives the push to frack NOW to feed it! (Rather than being able to slow down and do some more rational thinking about if it should be done at all, and if so, whether and how it can be done responsibly).

    And, ultimately, we would be far better off - whatever the energy source - by doing long term comprehensive planning before we create so much energy from a different source that we don't know what to do with.

    If I understand your point, though, isn't that less of a danger with renewable energy sources?  Presumably, once we figure out how to do tap the renewable energy stream, we will not need to invest vast quantities of money in discovering and implementing newer and better ways of extracting the last bits of energy from the pool, since we are tapping a neverending stream - rather than a pool that will eventually dry out.

     
    Doug Livingston
    on Mar 23, 2012

    Nancy, the "FRACK" now notion is something embraced by Ohio. We haven't seen this kind of expansive gas exploration ever. Texas, however, has. And gas drilling in Texas hit a 30-year low last year.

    The lacking demand for natural gas is pushing drillers toward oil and wet gases. Some argue that oil drilling is much more detrimental to the enviornment

    To your point: "Presumably, once we figure out how to do tap the renewable energy stream, we will not need to invest vast quantities of money in discovering and implementing newer and better ways of extracting the last bits of energy from the pool, since we are tapping a neverending stream - rather than a pool that will eventually dry out."

    Increased consumption will always call for better and more efficient ways to create energy. I think we can agree that "comprehensive planning" is needed.

    If a viable and renewable method of powering the world was discovered tomorrow, would the world be able to turn it's back on fossil fuels? There is no answer because this is the wrong question. We have to think pragmatic and ask: If a viable and renewable method of powering the world was discovered tomorrow, how long will it be before we can turn our back on fossil fuels ... and what will it take to keep it that way?

     
    Expand This Thread
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 1:17 pm

    Good afternoon everyone. I would first like to thank the North Canton Patch/Civic Commons for hosting this forum. This is an example of great journalism - a phenomenon in today's age in my opinion. 

    Many great points have already been brought up, and I will try to keep my post brief - but also include all the points I wish to make. 

    First - The Industry is not out to destroy the world (I hope) and is trying to ensure the safety of this practice. However, their main objective is profit, and they have a standard allowable rate of accidents, and negative environmental impacts. This standard seems to be based primarily on the rules of the nation/states they are working in. Look at PA for example. Until there were complaints from residents the industry was allowed, by the state, to dump the produced water from the drilling into local rivers and streams. In other countries, drilling waste is, right now, being dumped into their rivers and streams.  History has shown us the ruthlessness of this all powerful industry over the past 150 years. It is the job of the nation's leaders to combat this ruthlessness, however, many of our leaders have been, and will continue to be, swayed by the promise of capital gain, or political power, by siding with the industry. This is the world we live in; there is no arguing this fact.

    Second - Environmental impact is not avoidable with highly industrialized activities. This is an industrial endeavor at a rate never before seen. There WILL be air pollution, there WILL be water pollution, there WILL be soil pollution. And this is barring any accidents. Highly industrialized regions have a high rate of cancer, poverty, asthma, depression, respiratory diseases, and a huge decrease in cognitive abilities in children. And apparently with waste water injection there WILL be earthquakes. Again, this is not avoidable, nor fixable.

    Third - Accidents happen. There will be spills, blow outs, truck accidents, etc. Again, unavoidable, unfixable, and unarguable. If the industry standard for accidents is 1%, then for every 100 wells drilled, there will be 1 accident. If the goal is to drill 12,000 wells in Ohio (that is a low estimate by 1 company) that is 120 accidents. And that is their allowable rate. To date, the technology to fix the problems that will occurr do not exist. Fines and tax breaks do not fix the problems, they just appease the buracrats. 

    Fourth - As someone has already mentioned, the water being used is being completely removed from the ecosystem, something never before seen. Seven billion people, plus all the plant and other wildlife, share just 1% of the world's water supply. As we decrease this supply, the foreseeable near future is going to be frought with water shortages. Why is it that the largest oil barons are also becoming the largest private owners of fresh water supplies? It a viscious circle that seems pretty obvious to me. (Oh, and to whomever stated that the water usage is NOT 8 million gallons per well - I beg to differ, though I believe your attempt was to be "technically correct". The fracturing process itself may not take 8 million gallons, but the overall process, including drilling mud, fracturing fluid, etc, does take an approximate 8 million gallons of fresh water per well. This is per the industry.)

    The ONLY reason people are allowing this to happen is money. Any arguement to the contrary is trite. Humans are the only animals on this planet that destroy the environment purposefully, and then moan and wail when the effects of pollution become prevelant. I understand economics; I know it is difficult to turn down a financial windfall. But really, if someone held a gun to a childs head and offerred you $2,000 to shoot - would you take it?

    It is really difficult for me to comprehend the fact that as a nation we have allowed an antiquated industry to continue to rule our daily lives, to pollute our environment, destroy the healths of the wildlife, the people, and the ecosystem as a whole. We have the innovation and technology to have a better way, and we have to sink the money into infrastructure anyway, why not just convert now to a multitude of clean energy technologies? It would bring in permanent jobs, boost the economy, sustain te environment, and allow our children to have a better future.

    So what do we do? I wish for a ban on the process. I wish for people to refuse the jobs and the industry's money. I wish to see philanthropists and innovators work together on ensuring we have a multitude of clean energy sources. I wish to see this great nation, with its vast resource of clean water and open land available to us, and future generations, heal from the scars of highly industrialized mining and waste disposal.

    I find it rediculous that we have to deal with this issue. Is it 1885 or 2012?

    And for what it is worth, yes, I am an environmentalist. Whoever thought that acknowledging ones effect on the environment and trying to make it better would be demonized? Is that not what the past inhabitants of places such as Easter Island were trying to warn us to be sure to do? We rely on a clean environment to live healthy lives!

     

     

     

    Responses(4)

    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Your second point - Environmental impact is not avoidable with highly industrialized activities 

    I'm from Holmes County, and I don't think people in my community realize that this will create a large industrial presence in our agricultural community. We especially can't afford to deplete the quality of our natural resources if we foresee a continuation of our agriculture. 

    Dan's last point about the concern about how to educate the general public is one that is particularly important to me. Not only am I a resident of an area that is extrememly under-informed, I am a student at the University of Akron where many of the students don't even know what fracking is.

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thanks for getting involved in the conversation T. Higgens.  I appreciate your heart felt understanding of the situation and the economic realities of our state and agree with your concerns for future generations and we continue to deplete our natural resources at an unprecedented rate.There is another way to supply our state's energy needs and get away from business as usual but we need the right leadership to help get us there.  The Ohio legislative environment is difficult right now, but we are fortunate to have leadership that is willing to fight for stronger regulations and moratoriums on fracking until we know more.Ohio House and Senate members recently formed the Responsible Shale Environment Development Caucus (RSED). RSED will not only introduce and fight for reasonable legislation related to the exploding fracking industry, but they serve as an active and aggressive truth squad committed to refuting the mis and disinformation that is often disseminated by the fossil fuel industry. Ohio Representative Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) heads up the committee.Other supportive Ohio legislatures include Senator Michael Skindel, and Rep. Denise Driehaus, Tracy Maxwell Heard, Nickie Antonio and Teresa Fedor.These elected officials need our support and all our state reps and senators need to hear from their constituents and express their concerns about fracking in their communities.

    Certainly there's a need for a more informed public and Dan Moulthrop is right when he said on WKYC-TV3 on Sunday that it is currently the media's role to inform.  EcoWach is doing its part in posting articles every day that inform the public of what's going on throughout the U.S.

    I encourage every one to check out EcoWatch's fracking page to learn more and get involved.

    In just the last day and a half, we've posted these pieces:

    Colorado a Model of Irresponsible Oil and Gas Development

    FRACKING: Health and Environmental Impact Greater than Claimed

    The 'Golden Rules for the Golden Age of Gas'

    FRACKING: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians

    Will Fracking Destroy Colorad's Rivers?

    Study Shows Air Emissions Near Fracking Sites may Impact Health

     
    Nancy Reeves
    on Mar 21, 2012

    The removal of the water from the ecosystem makes me wonder whether this process is, or ought to be, reviewed under the Great Lakes Water Compact.  One of the main reasons our home in souther Summit County is on well water is that (absent an approved request for a diversion) any Great Lakes water which moves south across the continental divide (just south of Akron) via water lines has to be returned north via sewer lines.  That prospect that is too expensive to be practical.

    I don't know whether the water being used for this process comes from the area that would be governed by the Compact, or whether injection deep into the earth (and removal, in a different kind of "south" from whatever water stores are being used) would count as a diversion, but it might be worth exploring.

     
    Diana Ludwig
    on Mar 24, 2012

    Tonya Higgins, we at Frackfree Mahoning Valley would like to re-post - with your permission - your above inspiring essay-post on the Frackfree blog at http://frackfreemahoning.blogspot.com/ thanks

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    We're about halfway through the scheduled time for this shale forum, and I think we've learned a lot. We've gotten a lot better educated about the fracking process, the amount of water involved, the costs involved the environmental hazards at play both in the direct process and the ancillary processes of waste fluid removal, disposal and recycling. 

    We've heard that ODNR is poised to grow its staff to meet the increasing demand, and, I guess we're making an assumption that the growth in staff is funded by the fees and revenues collected by the State of Ohio from the industry (but I hope we can get clarification on that).

    We discussed the accounting of costs associated with so-called "externalities," and it sounds like there may be an opportunity for our friends in philanthropy to get with our friends in academia and the industry and start studying what needs to be studied. The question, though, is whether those concerns can be integrated effectively in the decision-making process in Columbus;

    There are a number of other concerns to which we haven't yet heard answers or solutions.

    • The extent to which regulatory fines provide a sufficient deterrent to ensure safety in industry practices;
    • the specifics of Governor Kasich's energy proposal;
    • And how the broader public should be educated about the many issues involved and how that public should be involved in the current decision-making process;

    Since the taxation portion of the Governor's proposal has been put on the back-burner by Republicans in the General Assembly, we might perhaps have more time to discuss that. So let's get to that last question (which actually comes from panelist Brad Whitehead). A better educated and engaged public would probably benefit everyone, including industry groups. So, beyond this effort in these three days, and the upcoming events at The City Club of Cleveland, what else could we do help our state and our leaders make the right decisions?

     

    Responses(6)

    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 20, 2012

    My suggestion? Barr any support from the industry to politicians. No campaign funds for politicians, no subsidies to the industry. Stop allowing politicians to become corporate executives, and stop allowing corporate executives to become politicians. Stop allowing money to be the main proponent in the decision making process. Let the scientists tell their facts, and let the politicians do their jobs of weighing the cost and benefits, without coercion. Stop advertisements by the industry trying to convince the public of the benefits of this process without addressing the issues.

    But, we live in the "real world" not my utopian dream. So, my suggestion would be to have continued forums such as this one, and to see continued efforts by the scientific community to educate the public and our leaders.

    Have there been, or are there any plans to, have a televised debate?

     

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    With regard to better education for the public and lawmakers, I've unfortunately seen a couple examples in this forum where those speaking the most about misinformation happen to be delivering some of it word for word from the industry tip sheets. Please be aware of the following (mentions Ohio specifically) from the VP of a well known company, exerpt and full link below:

    Because they have a great deal of influence over the public, it is especially important that educators and academics receive early inoculations. This point was stressed repeatedly during the conference.The second stage targets the most influential members of our society, reporters, educators, academics and lawmakers. Citizens will be inoculated in the last stage.

    Chesapeake Energy’s VP of Strategic Affairs and Public Relations, Michael Kehs, recommends early inoculation against what he calls “a strong activist insurgency.” Listen to this audio clip of Kehs, at the recent Media & Stakeholder Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011 conference talking about the need to inoculate reporters early.

     

    Kehs explained how, Chris Helman who writes for Forbes, received his inoculation when he was flown to Tulsa to spend 2.5 days with top management. Helman was given a helicopter trip to a special pad site equipped with all the latest technology. This inoculation, Kehs explained, gave Helman the impression that Chesapeake ”cares” and that they know what they are doing.

    http://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/fracking_season_is_upon_us_have_you_been_inoculated

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Dan I'm interested in how you think public engagement and education would benefit industry groups? From people I've talked to, the less they know about what fracking actually takes and the scale of development that is being planned, the more likely they are to support it. Very few of the folks that I've talked to that have signed leases (which means industry has directly interacted with them and entered a contract) understand that there are implications beyond what they've known from traditional NG development.

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 21, 2012

    If good actors in industry take a leadership role and share best practices and tell the story of how this works when it works well, with minimum environmental impacts, then the public at large is better educated and they benefit because they enjoy greater support. Right now, one of the biggest challenges industry faces is that even government officials don't understand the whole process, much less the landowners from whom they are trying to lease mineral rights. If more people understood, their job becomes easier. 

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 21, 2012

    I think that's quite an assumption even to say that if people better understood the industry's best-case scenario process, that would increase support for it. Looking at my own path on this, I was quite supportive of the idea of natural gas production before I learned what we were talking about, most especially the massive scale. I don't even mean the things in dispute, like how much benzene is ok to drink or whether we've seen or are ever going to see those billions of gallons of slickwater get in the water table somehow. People just have no idea of the scale. The ethane crackers, compressor stations, air emmissioins, pipeline, and millions and millions of tanker truck trips that of neccessity, under best practice, will come to define the region. 

    In my experience, most people believe this discovery of natural gas just means more natural gas wells like they've seen before, so they think it's probably good, even though they've heard some vague "environmentalist" rumblings about water wells, they've heard "not one problem ever proven" too.

    I couldn't disagree more with the last statement that one of industries biggest challenges is that people don't understand the process. Indeed, I would say most of the people out here who are signed categorically do not understand it, and signed early and for less money because they think this is just like grampa's well. What job of theirs becomes easier if people understand the reality of this process better? I think this tells a very happy story about honesty and dialogue solving everything, but this is just very hard for me to see.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 25, 2012

    I do not agree that the Oil and Gas industry should be the ones who control the education on this issue. The more I find out about this process the LESS I like it. The information from the Oil & Gas industry was so obviously biased that it drove me to look for what they were covering up. The environmental ramifications are huge! The ODNR seems to be touting the industry line 100%. Forums such as this may be the best way to  get balanced information.

     
    Expand This Thread
    David J. Crandall
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 8:18 am

    If I have to name a concern, and, having spent a good deal of time educating myself about the process, I struggle to identify one, I would say that my biggest concern is that a few companies will not operate responsibly and create an issue somewhere that results in a curtailing of the opportunity, when enforcement of existing regulation and a continued and careful consideration of improvements to regulation may adequately address the issue.  Having said that, I must emphasize that I think Ohio is making good headway in this regard.  We've all heard about tragedies in Pennsylvania, but I can tell you that ODNR has learned from Pennsylvania and other states.  For example, unlike states where wells are single-cased, in Ohio, a 20 inch well bore is cased in at least 3 steel pipes and 8 inches of concrete.  No, nothing is fool-proof, but that fact is that we (at least most of us) need energy for our daily lives and there is no perfect solution.  I hope one day  wind and solar technologies will improve and become economically viable, but today they are not.

     

    Responses(32)

    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 20, 2012

    David brings up an important point that has been missing from this conversation. In reviewing the construction details of Chesapeake Utica wells, four strings of casing are used: conductor, surface, intermediate, and production. Each of these strings extends from the casing point depth to the surface and the first three are cemented back to the surface. Although we must remain diligent in protecting ground water from possible casing and cement failure, the current well construction practice is very good.

    On a related note, I visted a Chesapeake well pad under construction 1/2 mile up the road from my home in Columbiana County. The design of the access road, surface runoff retention ponds and silt barriers is impressive. The primary construction contractor is a local company and they are clearly employing a lot of local workers.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thanks Jeffrey. Can you expand upon what you found impressive about the retention ponds, road, and runoff plan? Do you have any photos? How are you privy to the construction details, is this public record?

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I think you're right in saying that there is no perfect solution, especially at this point. However, if the best solution we can think of is a little extra steel and concrete in hopes of protecting against a less than perfect system, we're setting oursleves up for failure. Why do we want to gamble with something as essential as resource quality? I think I read somewhere in this forum an estimation of 400,000 fracked wells within the decade in Ohio? That's 400,000 opportunities for all the errors that could occur. Even if each well is constructed and operated without a single error, what about any inherent risks we might be dismissing that aren't errors, but a result of an unsafe process?

     
    David J. Crandall
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I should clarify.  When I said there was no perfect solution, I meant that there is no perfect form of energy. 

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Correction. when I said I thought there was an estimation of 400,000 fracked wells I was citing Stefanie's post saying:

     There are currently 21 massive fracking rigs in Ohio with 29 more expected by summer and 200 by the end of the year.  More than 4,000 fracked wells are expected by 2016 in Ohio.  Pennsylvania has 3,000 wells fracked.  Both states are projected to have more than 100,000 in the coming decades.

    significantly less than I speculated, but still a dramatic increase.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Also, when you say "in Ohio, a 20 inch well bore is cased in at least 3 steel pipes and 8 inches of concrete", is that a requirement?

     
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 20, 2012

    In response to the well pad construction, I found the construction, design and placement of retention ponds impressive. Every natural and constructed drainage pathway surrounding the well site had retention ponds. The perimeter of the entire site was protected with "silt sock" tubes. I took many photos. Unfortunately I don't have them handy to upload today.

    As for the casing design, the conductor, surface and production strings are mandated by ODNR through the permitting process. The intermediate sting seems to be placed to protect the borehole through prviously depleted production horizons such as the Berea. Typical construction includes a 20 inch conductor casing (stabilzes the well bore), a 13.275" surface casing (protects deepest producing aquifer), a 9.625" intermediate casing and a 5.5" production casing. The Neider 3H well in Carrol County ran these casings to depths of 80 ft, 466 ft, 1,728 ft, and 12,503 ft, respectively.

    Ohio has approximately 85,000 existing wells that have been hydraulically fractured with no known problems. These wells are primarilly traditional Clinton wells. Primary differences include the volume of fluids used and chemical additives. In areas like the east Canton Oil Field, the Clinton is drilled on  near perfect grid of 40 acre spacings (determined by depth of production) which is the equivalent of 16 wells per square mile. Current drilling trends of the Utica and Marcellus will place 6-8 wells per square mile from a single pad.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thanks. it would be great to see some pictures to know what we are talking about.

    It is amazing that 85,000 wells could be fracked without any problems, although I guess "known" is an operative term here. But can you compare the scope of these facks as far as trucks, additives, fluid volume, tailings, and pad size with Marcellus wells?

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I have heard of places in Ohio where they have had problems with even conventional drilling and vertically fracked wells - Isn't there an area on Cady Road in North Royalton that is listed as a physical hazard due to gasses leaching into basements after a vertical well was fracked? Where does this fall into the "No problems"

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    You have to read their statements very carefully. You will find that they are legally 100% correct.

    And that the statements are nearly 100% meaningless. They are usually based on a very narrow definition of "fracking" to mean specifically the process of fracturing the shale. Excluded from that definition is everythign else: future production at that site, storage, transportation, and disposal of the chemicals and toxic waste, runoff from the site. They also define "proven" to mean proven in a court of law. So if they come to a settlement before of during trial, whatever problem spurred that action is officially "not proven."

     
    Nancy Reeves
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Here's an article about two homeowners in Medina County with potentially explosive water (34.7 and 47.4 percent), which the homeowners say was caused by fracking.  The ODNR disagrees.

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Hello

    I have to disagree that in 85,000 wells that were completed using well stimulation techniques in Ohio that none had any problems?  I have documentation of countless problems... I am sure Heidi does as well.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    David, what do you think would stop companies from cutting corners and creating problems? As I see it, there are a ton of operators, some small enough that they may just be doing a few weils and getting out. The risk-reward for these guys seems obviously stacked towards just getting it done, getting paid, and getting clear.

    You could even take truckers. I don't know how they are paid, or how the disposal is accounted and paid, but is there any incentive for them to "lose" loads of toxic brine on the way to the injection well? Is there incentive to speed back and forth with those hundred-ton loads?

    I wish I could "struggle" to find a concern here. The general industrialization of the entire rural and semi-rural region of Eastern Ohio gives me a few qualms even if it somehow goes as smoothly as industry theory says it will, and I like to believe it would even if I made money off it as I presume your company does.

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 20, 2012

    "You could even take truckers. I don't know how they are paid, or how the disposal is accounted and paid, but is there any incentive for them to "lose" loads of toxic brine on the way to the injection well? Is there incentive to speed back and forth with those hundred-ton loads?"

    Brine is a commodity. You wouldn't spill gold or steel on the highway. It has a value to injection-well operators.

    Are there bad truckers out there? Sure, just as there are bad people in all lines of work.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I understand the disposal is expensive, and so it's very valuable for the injection well owner and very costly to the producing well owner, in a zero-sum arrangement. The question is whether the system runs so that the injection well owner has the oversight. I hope this is the case, otherwise that "golden" incentive is in reverse.

    Do you know how the transaction works?

    Even given that the incentive has been set up correctly, are truckers paid by the hour or by the load? Judging from the "Shortfuse" trucks that barrel through Hiram every day with their incredible tonnage from PA, I'd say the later. They seem to be in a bigger hurry than anyone else around here.

     

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Yes. The incentive is good old fashion money.

    I know many in the industry who say it is too expensive for them to have fluids taken to injection wells. 

    Think of brine like garbage. Don't you have to pay to have your garbage taken care of? Sure Waste Management makes money on it (as do the injection well owners) but you certainly dont, it is a cost.

     
    David J. Crandall
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Darrel, a couple thoughts.  First, a well costs between $6-8 million dollars.  So, it takes a well capitalized company to finance a deep horizontal well.  Those companies have too much at stake to do this poorly.  Second, the oil and gas drilling is highly regulated by ODNR.  The permitting and notice requiremnts are pretty extensive.  For example, a well cannot be cased with cement unless ODNR is at the well site to observe.  Like any industry, we have to adopt well fouded rgulation and enforce the rule of law.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Having been on the ODNR Oil of Division and Gas website, I can attest that it is overwhelming to understand the regulations surrounding fracking. When you say that oil and gas drilling is highly regulated by ODNR, can you point out instances in which we have stricter regulations than another state?

    How strict are these regulations? Are there exemptions to well construction in which requirements can be changed?

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    If the process is so safe why does the industry need to be Exempt from regulations that every other business must meet? Would it not be a great public relations move for the industry to support repeal of the Haliburton loophole that shields them from the following:

     

    Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

    Safe Drinking Water Act

    Clean Water Act

    Clean Air Act

    National Environmental Policy Act

    Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    It seems like a well capitalized company that can afford multiple 6-8 million dollar wells might be willing to pay the minimal fines for careless mistakes. Just because they can afford to drill the wells doesn't mean they feel the need to do so responsibly, they will make money either way.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    How do you feel the ohio enforcement mechanism compares to Pennsylvania? And do you think that the current level of violations such as improper disposal and spills evidenced there is acceptible collateral damage?

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/drilling/

     

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Here is a quick apples to apples comparison, a PA fine:

    Under a consent order signed Monday with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Chesapeake will pay $900,000 for contaminating the private water supplies of 16 residences in Bradford County in northern Pennsylvania. Chesapeake, the largest Marcellus Shale operator, also will pay a $188,000 fine for a Feb. 23 fire at its drilling site in Avella, Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania.

    And the OH fine to a company who contaminated more than 16 private water supplies around the same time period as above: $175,000

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 21, 2012

    That blows me away. Do you have the citation for the Ohio instance.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    David I agree with Tara below. On the one hand, I don't think any of the companies beyond maybe the top 10 have the kind of resources to do true remediation of the kinds of problems they could cause. They have enough to pay the fines, clearly, because they do pay them. But is it at a level that truly remediates and changes behavior? Cabott has paid hundreds of fines for hundreds of the incidents which have been flagged. But those fines don't seem to change behavior. I believe the rate of violation on a per well basis is increasing as we go along. Some companies clearly have a better record, and some worse, but it's hard to understand your confidence on this aspect of corporate responsibility when the record is right there already.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

     

    We have heard from the Oil and Gas Industries that Fracking is not a new process and that they have been Fracking vertical wells for many years – implying that the technology is the same.  Then they say that there have been no examples of problems with Horizontally Fracked wells and use ONLY the numbers based on the new Horizontal technology – leaving out all history of problems with vertical wells.

    So, which is it?

     Is it new technology with an unknown history?

    Or is it a new application of an existing technology that has had some history of failure in the past?

     
    David J. Crandall
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Fracking has been around since the 1940's.  I think it was first done in Kansas.  The new technology is horizontal drilling which allows access to deep deposits.

     
    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Horizontal/directional drilling is not new. It has been used in offshore production platforms since the 1940s. Horizontal drilling is used in shale gas development simply as a means of increasing the amount of well bore surface area in the shale formation to provide economically viable production with the aid of hydraulic fracturing.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    The elements (including horizontal drilling) are not so new. What's new is just the combination of tecnologies.

    But as a system, it really is a completely new and experimental thing. Not only are the volumes per well increased by orders of magnitude, you get to technical problems like the inability to pump water through a pipe that long without doing something to reduce friction (adding chemicals in current practice.) On current projections for Pennsylvania alone, they are talking about something like 50 trillion gallons of toxic wastewater that needs disposal. The scale makes it a completely different thing.

    Also in response to Kathryn, I don't think we need to look to compare apples to oranges or 1980's apples to 2010 apples. The high volume hydrofracking industry has a track record of it's own by now. Notwithstanding the carefully worded legalistic claims of industry about what has not been proven, there have been thousands of tons of problems, in the form of tainted water, spills, blowouts, casing failures, fishkills, illegal dumping, earthquakes, the list goes on and on and the RATE of violations in Penn. increases every year. The fact that this is the current record, and yet the industry still maintains that there is never a problem and somehow gets us talking about theoreticals is amazing.

     

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 20, 2012

    The fracking technology is essentially the same, although there have been improvements, and Baker Hughes has something called a "super frack" (please, no Rick James jokes).   What is different is that they apply the technology along a horizontal well bore within the same reservoir for many thousands of feet.   Historically, in a vertical well, they only perforate the well casing in a zone of around 50 feet, and this allows production to move through a permeable reservoir into the wellbore.  But production does not move through shale, unless the zone is fractured.  Now they are perforating thousands of feet.   So the technology is old, but its use was on a far more limited basis.  The issue is whether the large scale fracturing along a horizontal wellbore somehow will change the dynamics of this.   There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that it wil.  But I read a Scientific American article from October 2011 that speculated that "when multiple fracks are done, in multiple adjacent wells, the risk for contaminating drinking water may rise."   You need a license to read the entire article, so i won't give you the site.  But the upshot is they had no example of it happening.  But the article speculated that it could.  

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    In regards to our drinking water, speculation like that might be enough to give pause to some until it could be verified or proven wrong. To others, apparently not.

    Also, now that horizontal fracking is expanding, a greater number of people are aware of and affected by it. Why push this change on such a large population so quickly? Allow time for the community and research to catch up so we don't have to go back and fix problems that could have been prevented had we waited.

     
    Ary Bastos
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Hydraulic Fracturing in Brazil

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/233431303415121/#!/pages/Fraturamento-Hidr%C3%A1ulico-no-Brasil-Hydraulic-Fracturing-in-Brazil/331037766937425

    Hydraulic Fracturing–Operational Models

    ( The new model is a solution )

    https://apps.facebook.com/slideshare/slideshow/11722836?from=slidespacevio

    Hydraulic Fracturing is a technical issue that must be regulated "urgent" by the ANP, based on a new operating model, defining the operational procedures for the oil and service companies.

    With the word: ANP, ANA, IBAMA, INEMA, SEMA, MCTI, MME, MMA, HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES, SENATE FEDERAL and the PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE.

    Regards,

    Ary Bastos

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    So your biggest concern is that something bad might happen, and drilling will cease?

    Also, you point out that we 'need' this energy for our daily lives. Indications are that Big Oil will make disgusting profits by selling this gas to overseas concerns. If this is true, and there is no reason to think otherwise, you make an irrelevant point. So in effect we 'allow' this ruthless, and ruinous technology to destroy our country, while Big Oil gets even richer selling to other countries.

    True or False?

    WE don't have time to bandy words here. Be honest at least that you (Big or Small Oil) are more concerned with taking this resource and squandering it, than you are with safety.

    Yes?

    In a process this intrusive and possibly catastrophic, how can you shrug about accidents? Seems pretty callous to me.

    We cannot EAT MONEY, we cannot breath MONEY, and the last time I checked we can't breath methane either.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 6:42 am

    A follow-up question: Yesterday, John Mitterhozer brought up the concern of what you call externalized costs. He asked: "How much will the impacts to agriculture, public health, natural resources, water and air quality and other sectors truly cost the state both short term and long term?" My question--for John, Andrew Thomas, Mike Foley, and anyone else: How we might we measure those costs? Can we look at Pennsylvania or other regions and get some sense of the order of magnitude? 

     

    Responses(4)

    John Mitterholzer
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Great question.  Several studies have been conducted in New York State looking at the impact shale gas extraction could have on the wine industry and its tourism industry.

    As far as I know, PA did not do any agriculture studies prior to drilling and is now seeing some significant changes in this sector.  For example, the number of dairy farms has decreased.  There may be many factors for this but one of them is the simple fact that farmers are retiring with the money they are earning from their mineral rights. Understanding what that could mean for the agricultural sector in Ohio over the long-term will be important as we still rank fourth in the country in agricultural production.

    I think these kinds of studies are important, not to stop fracking, but as a way to think about the kinds of regulation and safeguards needed to protect the long-term economic vitality of certain sectors of Ohio's current economy.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thank you Dan, for bringing the question of externalized costs back to the forefront of discussion. It seems to me that this should be the core of any decision to drill...but  the value of agriculture, public health, natural resources, water and air quality are difficult to measure accurately. I think that as long as we are discounting the value of these things we will not know the true costs of Fracking or be able to assess the risks properly.

     
    Caitlin Johnson
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Cornell University has done a lot of work on this.

    If you click the link below, you'll find a link to a study about how the shale gas industry could affect tourism in New York's Southern Tier (or Catskills) Region. The study concluded that drilling could have a negative impact on the region's brand and hurt the tourism industry. 

    http://cce.cornell.edu/EnergyClimateChange/NaturalGasDev/Pages/MarcellusShaleEconomicImpacts.aspx

    Moreover, some of the papers aggregated on the page below will provide a framework about other ways to think about the economic impact of shale gas -- beyond dollars to be made. For example - what are the long-term workforce development challenges if the jobs associated with drilling are frontloaded at the beginning of the process? How to local governments deal with potential damage caused by heavy truck traffic?

    http://www.greenchoices.cornell.edu/downloads/development/marcellus/Marcellus_CaRDI.pdf

    Finally, Cornell has also begun to study the effects on animals in shale drilling regions. Granted, this study examines a few incidents, but if the findings prove to be a trend, this could present a significant economic issue.

    http://ia700801.us.archive.org/1/items/ImpactsOfGasDrillingOnHumanAndAnimalHealth/Bamberger_Oswald_NS22_in_press.pdf

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 20, 2012

    The problem with assessing externalized costs is that, aside from being very controversial, there is little funding available to support research on them.   There is an endless appetite among policy makers for economic information of the effects of energy policy, but the only studies funded (including my own) are those that have an interest in the results.  This is how policy is set in America -- through advocacy from competing interests.    Most external costs have no organized constituency, so we see few studies of this nature.   That said, I believe Case Western economists may be working on something of this nature.  Their energy center has foundation backing that may allow them to undertake this type of work.   But to me an examination of externalties should include the cost of dependence on foreign oil to Ohio and our nation as a whole.   It is no coincidence that the advent of the rustbelt coincided with the energy crisis in Ohio in the 1970's.  Manufacturing decline in Ohio increased in the 2000's when -- surprise -- oil went from $40/bbl to over $150/bbl.   More than half of our national trade deficit today comes from the purchase of foreign oil.  Ohio reached peak oil 80 years before the rest of the nation, so we share more than our proportional share of this deficit.  In the meantime, we are spending trillions of dollars subsidizing Saudi Aramco, Kuwaiti National Oil Company, and other middle eastern concerns, all of whom use the money to foment mischief against Western society.   If we added the cost of our navy patrolling the Persian Gulf to the cost of a gallon of gasoline, it would be over $10.00/gallon.   This is an externality that should also be looked at with regard to shale formation development.  It is not enough to ask, "what are the external costs to our environment to develop shale?"  We also have to ask ourselves, "what are the external costs of the alternatives?" 

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012 - 6:13 am

    This is a question particularly for Dave Crandall, Heidi Hetzel Evans, and Brooks Miller (who experienced technical issues yesterday): 

    Two of the big questions yesterday had to do with concerns specific to any particular stakeholder group and the environmental hazards that are at play when ever a well is drilled and put into production. So, Dave and Brooks, what are the concerns for businesses in the supply chain? 

    and Heidi, what are the concerns that regulators at ODNR have? Also, a number of people have alluded to the number of inspectors at ODNR as being potentially inadequate to meet the growing demand. Is that something Ohioans should be very worried about? 

     

     

    Responses(13)

    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Also, a follow-up for Heidi at ODNR: What are the levels of the fines currently leveled for well drilling violations? What do we know about whether they function as a deterrent? (This question comes out of a comment above from Policy Matters Ohio.)

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Great question Dan,

    Heidi , correct me if I am wrong but fines are not levied against incidents unless the ODNR escalates the case to the AG office, and usually that is (or only?) on final nonappealable orders.

    In other words, in english, for the group - lets say in March a few different companies had a few different incidents ranging from brine leaking from pits to a broken valve releasing gases into the air causing an evacuation etc... you get the picure. 

    If an inspector is notified by someone about the probelm, they would  first have to issue a compliance agreement to the company. Some accidents we deem grave may not qualify as an incident to a well inspector- so that is the first hurdle (whether they will issue an agreement).  The second hurdle is a compliance agreement is essentially like getting a verbal warning from a cop if you get pulled over. The ODNR tells them to fix x y or z, otherwise they could be in trouble.  Eventually, if the problem is not fixed this may rise to a final nonappeallable order wherein the ODNR may pass to the AG office for next steps.

    I am sure the statute allows for variations on above however I am sure we all want to know the 'norm'.  In other words, in the last 24 months how many cases were given to AG to pursue fines?  I am aware of only one final nonappealable order on the ODNR site right now.

     

    RE: violations and penalities

    During an inspection, if an ODNR inspector finds violations, based on Ohio Revised Code or Ohio Administrative Code, then the operator is issued a compliance notice with a timeline for correcting any noted issues. Compliance notices do not have associated penalties, however, failure to comply will result in additional enforcement.

    Penalties are imposed pursuant to ORC 1509.33, 1509.99 and when a formal compliance agreement is entered into with the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. An order does not have to be issued for the division to forward a request for civil or criminal actions to the Attorney General or county prosecutor.

    In the last 24 months, the division has generated $78,935 in penalties.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    So does this answer the follow-up question Dan posed as to whether these fines function as a deterrent? You said $78k generated from violation fines in 2 years, how many violations have been reported but not fined?

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Let's be realistic. In Pennsylvania, I was driving through Elkland PA following a convoy of frack trucks sometime after midnight on my way home. After stopping to nap, I continued on my way, only to find about a mile stretch of flat road with one lane soaked in fluid. I stopped my car, got out cursing, and dipped my finger into the fluid. It was slick, smelled of chemicals, and tasted like salt. So I called 911 to report a possible spill.

    911 forwarded me to the DEP emergency line. I got a responder, gave her the exact location and she told me DEP would be in touch. So I took a four hour nap in my car. DEP didn't call. Unfortunately, I had to get home to a family member who was sick and needed my care and couldn't stick around.

    When DEP finally called me, it was SEVEN HOURS after I made the intial call and I was already home, four counties away. I don't know if any enforcement action was taken. I don't know if they found anything.

    Let me pose this to ODNR, are you prepared for a call like that? What would you realistically do? What's your estimated response time? How would you find the trucking company that has their workers driving down the road with their valves open?

     

    Alexander - ODNR routinely receives complaints regarding oil and gas drilling and related activities from the public. Our inspectors investigate all specific complaints and follow up as soon as possible. Situations related to public health, safety and/or environmental protection are handled immediately. We're also in close contact with first responders and provide follow up as needed.

    As I've mentioned elsewhere, the division is nearly quardrupling its field staff so that we can remain responsive to public complaints. Additionally, our Web site offers inspector listings, regional office phone numbers and emergency well locators for the public's use in determining who to contact. Additionally, we are adding several support staff who will serve to handle the ever-increasing number of public inquiries and public records requests.

    ODNR is committed to being responsive to all inquiries and complaints.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Will there be an inspector following all frack trucks to ensure there's no dumping? Will they be up in the middle of the night to respond to a spill reported 50 miles from the nearest ODNR office? Will they be able to trace spills back to subcontractors and drivers who are negligent or purposely dumping water on roads to cut corners? For example, how are you going to stop a guy like this without whistleblowers coming forward? http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/11077/1132812-454.stm

     

    Hi, this is Heidi Hetzel-Evans, communications manager, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Mangement. I originally drafted our initial response to serve as an introduction. I'll post separately about well violations.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resource (ODNR), Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management is responsible for regulating the permitting, drilling and production of Ohio's oil and natural gas resources. The fundamentals of ODNR's mission lies within the "wise use" of Ohio's natural resources.

    A strong regulatory framework enables ODNR to provide for safe and environmentally sound drilling. Ohio’s oil and gas law was significantly improved in 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 165. The legislation focused on updating oil and gas law to improve protection of public health, safety and the environment.

     

    Pursuant to Senate Bill 165, the division has developed new rule packages which will provide further protection of Ohio's groundwater. For example, the package of well construction rules, now before JCARR, will result in Ohio having some of the most protective well construction standards in the country.

     

    ODNR is preparing for the shale exploration, which is the future of oil and gas development in Ohio. Governor Kasich and the department is committed to strengthening Ohio’s regulations.

    Governor Kasich unveiled a number of additional regulations including a “cradle to grave” disclosure which will ensure that all chemicals or chemical classes will be fully identified throughout the drilling process. Further, ODNR is moving forward with a number of stringent rules regarding brine disposal.

     

    To learn more about shale drilling, please visit the division's Web site at: www.ohiodnr.com/minerals and click on Shale Development in the upper left corner. Our site features a number of fact sheets regarding shale issues (hydraulic fracturing, environmental safety, etc.) and are based on Ohio facts.

     

    We are proud of our most recent review from the State Review of Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, Inc., which is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder group that conducts reviews of oil and natural gas regulatory programs based on defined sets of guidelines.

     

    The findings of STRONGER included:

    ·     “The Ohio program is over all well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives”.

    ·     The State has strong enforcement tools.

    ·     They review possible potential pathways of contamination in the permit reviews.

    ·     They are increasing their staffing levels.**  

    ·     Comprehensive changes have been made to their oil and gas laws.

     

    To read the report, please visit: http://www.ohiodnr.com/mineral/oil/review/tabid/21258/default.aspx

     

    ** And to answer one of my first questions-- ODNR will have nearly quadrupled our inspection and enforcement staff by the end of 2012—the division remains committed to providing "more boots on the ground" to meet increased drilling activities. 

     

     

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thank you for that. Can you tell describe how inspections of the wells are done? Is an inspector onsite at each critical phase of construction?

    How is the concrete checked deep in the bore to asure that there is no porousity in the concrete  or areas where the concrete does not mold to the contours of the shaft?

     

     

    Apologize to Kathryn and company for the delay in responding but I wanted to check with our inspection staff to make sure I answer your question fully.

    With regard to new well inspections (before the well has been brought into production), our inspectors are tasked with witnessing all high priority activities, such as the placement of surface casing (the first level of piping and cement that is placed 50 feet below the lowest aquifer point) and well plugging (or well closure).

    During casing, the inspectors calculate the volume of cement needed based on the depth the casing is set and verify the correct volume of cement is used. Inspectors also make certain that during well casing, centralizers are used to ensure the casing is properly centered in the hole.

    During cementing, if the inspectors have reason to believe that there is improper placement of the cement, they can require the well owner (operator) to run geophysical logs (tests) to identify zones to determine if the cement has created a complete sheath around the case, and if necessary, take remedial measures to correct any issues.

    Once a well is producing, inspections are based on a priority criteria that takes into account issues related to public health, safety or environment. Our inspectors are on call 24/7 and often respond to complaints and first responders at all times of the day or night.

    As discussed, inspections can lead to compliance notices, which would require corrective action or follow up by the operator.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    To follow up on Dan's question -What are the levels of the fines currently leveled for well drilling violations?

     

    Fines related to oil and gas are on a sliding scale - to avoid incorrect paraphrasing, I've copied the approprial ORC language below:

    1509.33 Civil penalties.

    (A) Whoever violates sections 1509.01 to 1509.31 of the Revised Code, or any rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a permit or registration certificate issued pursuant to these sections for which no specific penalty is provided in this section, shall pay a civil penalty of not more than four thousand dollars for each offense.

    (B) Whoever violates section 1509.221 of the Revised Code or any rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a permit issued thereunder shall pay a civil penalty of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars for each violation.

    (C) Whoever violates division (D) of section 1509.22 or division (A)(1) of section 1509.222 of the Revised Code shall pay a civil penalty of not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than twenty thousand dollars for each violation.

    (D) Whoever violates division (A) of section 1509.22 of the Revised Code shall pay a civil penalty of not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars for each violation.

    (E) Whoever violates division (A) of section 1509.223 of the Revised Code shall pay a civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars for each violation.

    (F) Whoever violates section 1509.072 of the Revised Code or any rules adopted or orders issued to administer, implement, or enforce that section shall pay a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars for each violation.

    (G) In addition to any other penalties provided in this chapter, whoever violates division (B) of section 1509.22 or division (A)(1) of section 1509.222 or knowingly violates division (A) of section 1509.223 of the Revised Code is liable for any damage or injury caused by the violation and for the cost of rectifying the violation and conditions caused by the violation. If two or more persons knowingly violate one or more of those divisions in connection with the same event, activity, or transaction, they are jointly and severally liable under this division.

    (H) The attorney general, upon the request of the chief of the division of oil and gas resources management, shall commence an action under this section against any person who violates sections 1509.01 to 1509.31 of the Revised Code, or any rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a permit or registration certificate issued pursuant to these sections. Any action under this section is a civil action, governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure and other rules of practice and procedure applicable to civil actions. The remedy provided in this division is cumulative and concurrent with any other remedy provided in this chapter, and the existence or exercise of one remedy does not prevent the exercise of any other, except that no person shall be subject to both a civil penalty under division (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this section and a criminal penalty under section 1509.99 of the Revised Code for the same offense.

    Amended by 129th General Assembly File No. 28, HB 153, § 101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

    Effective Date: 06-14-2000

    1509.99 Penalty.

    (A) Whoever violates sections 1509.01 to 1509.31 of the Revised Code or any rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a permit issued pursuant to these sections for which no specific penalty is provided in this section shall be fined not less than one hundred nor more than one thousand dollars for a first offense; for each subsequent offense such person shall be fined not less than two hundred nor more than two thousand dollars.

    (B) Whoever violates section 1509.221 of the Revised Code or any rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a permit issued thereunder shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars for each day of violation.

    (C) Whoever knowingly violates section 1509.072, division (A), (B), or (D) of section 1509.22, division (A)(1) or (C) of section 1509.222, or division (A) or (D) of section 1509.223 of the Revised Code or any rules adopted or orders issued under division (C) of section 1509.22 or rules adopted or orders or terms or conditions of a registration certificate issued under division (E) of section 1509.222 of the Revised Code shall be fined ten thousand dollars or imprisoned for six months, or both for a first offense; for each subsequent offense such person shall be fined twenty thousand dollars or imprisoned for two years, or both. Whoever negligently violates such divisions, sections, rules, orders, or terms or conditions of a registration certificate shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars.

    (D) Whoever violates division (C) of section 1509.223 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars for a first offense nor more than one thousand dollars for a subsequent offense.

    (E) The prosecuting attorney of the county in which the offense was committed or the attorney general may prosecute an action under this section.

    Effective Date: 04-12-1985

     

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Heidi, I find it disingenuous that a government body would "avoid incorrect paraphrasing". Although I am perfectly capable of reading any act and extrapolating its meaning, is it not the job of government officials to provide this service? Especially when it comes to acts that continuously refer back to other acts? 

    And, for what it is worth, it is interesting that in the violations of the acts mentioned the highest fine is "no more than $5,000".

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 10:23 pm

    Just a quick note: Day 1 of this forum has been fantastic, except for one thing--several invited panelists haven't been able to participate because of a technical issue on our site. I won't go into too much detail--a recent upgrade created problems for some folks who use Internet Explorer. Anyway, we're working to fix the problem and look forward to everyone's participation on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the people unable to participate were people we invited from the oil and gas industry and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 

    I'd also like to say that I know emotions run high on this issue, and we really appreciate everyone's efforts to be civil and transparent. I'll say again, too, that our goal here is to find common ground and to do so by listening to and seeking to understand all sides and all points of view. That's not easy all the time, but it is necessary. Thanks for being here, everybody, and thanks for participating. If there are points of view that you feel aren't being represented, or people who you think ought to be a part of the conversation, please invite them to join in.

     

    Responses(2)

    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Hi, I'd like to clarify a couple points from Monday

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I've worked on Ohio oil and gas law and issues with the federal, state and local government as well as the industry and grassroots citizens for over 5 years. My contributing associates/experts have worked in the field and regulation for a combined total of 85 years.

    Karl is correct in that there are 30 inspectors now.  Stephanie though is correct in that those inspectors oversee all of the wells, active and inactive, which is over 275,000.  Much of their time in fact is spent on older wells that become very problematic to the environment and health and safety so it is incorrect to state they only oversee the active wells. I am sure the ODNR representatives would agree with this.

    When I mentioned local control I meant that the communities have the ability to determine where this industry is placed as they would any industry.  This is done via zoning, public meetings and input and a variety of other methods. Ohio was ruled in this fashion prior to 2004.

    The example of Ft Worth, TX not being happy with their local officials decision-making could occur here as well with local control or 'home rule'. The difference though being that those officials are accountable to the citizens as well as business and thus must make decisions accordingly or risk being voted out. In Ohio, the state permitting and regulating office which is funded by the industry (ODNR) and whose job it is to advance mineral resource exploration is making the decision on where to locate industry. They are not accountable to the citizens as they are not elected officials.

    Lastly, as I stated, I've worked with input from TX for many years, and the gentleman who spoke to Karl told me his advice for Karl/Ohio was "To move out of the state"

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    OK, let's focus for a moment on the environmental hazards, so we can focus on what level of regulation, inspection, and kinds of industry best practices need to be in place to avoid any environmental catastrophe. From what we can tell, there are a few points in the process where things can go awry.

    • At the surface, crude oil, fracking fluid, or wet natural gas can spill.
    • Where the bore hole crosses the water table, if the cement casing fails, oil, gas or fracking fluid can enter the aquifer.
    • Deep underground, if injection wells are employed beyond safe pressure ratings, may cause earthquakes
    • In the environment surrounding a well under development, increased truck traffic can have adverse effects on air and land quality, and vapors can release some chemicals into the local atmosphere.

    Firstly, does that summarize all the environmental hazards?

    Secondly, what are the current regulations, inspection routines, and industry practices that help us avoid those hazards? Are they currently adequate? Will they be adequate if and when well-drilling and production increases as expected? What, if anything, should be done to enhance current regs, rules, inspection and best practices?

     

     

    Responses(37)

    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I think that is a pretty fair summary of the environmental dangers, to the water, to the air and to the land, Hmmm. Also citizens currently have no way to keep a greedy neighbor from putting a well within 150 ft of your home. Then to top it off,  you can't sell the house and move away, because even if someone were willing to buy a house in the shadow of a well - they can't get a mortgage because of the well.

    Sounds to me like we need to STOP and think.

    Ooops - I just though of another environmental hazard -Habitat Fragmentation - while this will not cause an immediate catastophe it may well cause the extinction of many species and widespread environmental impoverishment.

     

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    The idea that you cannot get a mortgage because of a well is not true. Just ask the folks in DISH, Texas. There are wells seemingly every few hundred feet.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    This is Gwen, again:  just to day I received this link:  http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120319/Air-emissions-near-natural-gas-drilling-sites-may-contribute-to-health-problems.aspx about a report of a 3 year study:  "The study will be published in an upcoming edition of Science of the Total Environment.

    The report, based on three years of monitoring, found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited."

    We need more information about this, because even if our water is not contaminated, we in the community will all be breathing the same air.

     
    John Mitterholzer
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I will add two more environmental issues.

    1. Water usage.  Each fracked well uses at least 2.5 million gallons of water.  What is the cumulative impact of removing that much water from the water table and how does that affect water withdrawal limits under the Great Lakes Compact.

    2. Greenhouse gas emissions.  If a well leaks even a small amount of methane, the most potent of the greenhouse gases, the benefits of natural gas as a cleaner burning fuel are reduced.   Moreover, if the diesel emissions from truck traffic and the energy used to dispose of fracking fluids are considered, the potential benefits of natural gas as a cleaner fuel can be negated. 

     
    John Mitterholzer
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Too often, we talk of regulation without having a serious discussion about enforcement.  No amount of regulation will matter if we do not have the capacity to enforce them.  Ohio has lagged far behind other states in enforcement of critical environmental regulation like the Clean Water and Clean Air Act.  As recently as the last budget, enforcement officers were cut from ODNR.  

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012

    You are so right about the water usage. This is a huge amount of water used and though the industry compares it to the water used by a golf course... it does not equate... the Fracking process is a completely consumptive use, the water will never be returned to the water cycle.

    On the Compact - the current version of the Ohio implementation of the Compact (just introduced) allows some huge loopholes that could result in industry taking millions of gallons from the Lake Erie watershed before they even hit the limit where regulation kicks in, due to 90 day averaging.

     
    George Carr
    on Mar 20, 2012

    But see above; when Ohio gets a million gallons of rainfall per acre per year, is "millions of gallons" of water a significant impact to the system? How many acres are in the Lake Erie waterhsed?

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Yes, millions of gallons taken from the cycle, polluted and forced deep into injection wells are an issue. This is an OBSCENE waste of fresh water. Lake Erie is the smallest, shallowest and most vulnerable of the Great Lakes. About 98.5% of the water in the great lakes is a NON renewable resource - it was a gift of the glaciers that does NOT get refilled if we use it up.

    Fresh Water is the most threatened resource on earth. We cannot drink oil or Frack fluid.

    5.5 Million gallons is enough water to supply an average household with water  -  for about 50 YEARS

    And we are not a million here & there - we are talking about an AVERAGE of 5.5 Million Gallons for the first frack on each well - then a little less for subsequent Fracks...IF they recycle the old Frack water. They can refrack a well a number of times (I have heard everyting from 8 - 18 times) and have a number of bores off of each drill site - each gets Fracked. 

    Now multiply that by the number of New wells they plan to drill inthe next few years. A very big deal.

     

     

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I think industrial land use at this level is an environmental concern unto itself. Optimal spacing for horizontal shale development is apparently 16 wells per square mile, and it requires 5-15 acres of clearcut per. This is what that looks like.

     
    Spacing
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Darrel,

    Where are you getting the 16 wells per square miles stat?

    Also, multiple wells can and do appear on the same pad.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    16 wells per sq mi was a statistic from a talk by Dr. James Ingraffea, based on optimal economic spacing from the Barnett shale in Texas. Sorry I don't have the cite handy. I don't know if the photo from Colorado uses multiple wells per pad or not. In some cases perhaps its more economic to group them and in others not.

    The number of those wells grouped on a single pad probably depends on which companies are operating there, which landowners are signed, and thus how the drilling unit is amalgamated I would guess. The development pattern might be thought of as similar to cellular coverage. While there is no technical reason for there to be nearly as many cell towers as there are, that fact that companies are competing with each other for space, spectrum, and customers means they proliferate by factors of 5 beyond the number required in theory to provide coverage. And still there are gaps on each network.

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Dr. James Ingraffea has it backward. There are 16 wells (and well pads) per square mile in vertical drilling operations (the ones we've had for a half-century and longer). 

    There's really only the need for one well pad (up to 8 wells) -- well pad is larger -- for horizontal drilling operations. 

    The horizontal operation saves overall space, but uses a higher volume of chemicals, sand, etc. than your typical vertical well.

    Companies are separated by drilling units. At this point, multiple drillers aren't criss-crossing paths. (Also note: horizontal wells are drilled northwest or southeast -- "against the grain" is one way to put it.)

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I don't think he's off, I think I'm describing it wrong. He isn't saying 16 wellpads, he's saying that's optimum well spacing for horizontal extraction (in the Barnett) which is 40 acre spacing. I think marcellus is more like 80 acre, though it varies area to area. The photo there is 40 acre spacing, so I guess that would be the maximum density and probably never happen in the marcellus, but half that would be common?

     
    Policy Matters Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Hi Dan,

    To answer your first question - I think your list of 4 points of environmental concern seems about right, except that I'd say a 5th point of concern is also very important: the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with using natural gas compared to other energy options.

    I'm aware of two recent academic studies measurign the GHG impact of shale gas.  As the excerb from the following Cornell Daily Sun article explains, the conclusions you draw about how clean or dirty shale gas is depends upon what kind of time frame you care most about.  It turns out that burning shale gas is a more methane-intensive and less carbon-intensive process than burning coal. Methane only sticks around in the atmosphere for a decade or two, whereas carbon sticks around for about a century.  Both contribute to global warming - methane more intsnsively in the short-run, and carbon more permanently in the long-run.  So if your opinion is that we should take steps to address global warming 50 years from now, you might come to the conclusion that replacing coal with shale gas is a "clean" solution.  If your opinion is that the next 20 years is a critical window for dealing with cimate change, you might come to the conclusion that shale gas emissions are very dangerous.

    Of course, burning any fossil fuel is a more GHG-intensive process then getting energy from a renewable source. So a more relavent question may be - "what are the GHG emissions from shale gas versus wind turbines and solar panels?"

    We at Policy Matters think the emissions-based advantages of renewable enegy are important, and we think there's also a strong argument to be made that the supply-chain jobs resulting from a switch to wind and solar would be much more long-term than the jobs associated with nonrenewable resource extraction.

    Here's the aforementioned article (see the 8th paragraph for the discussion on time ranges)- http://cornellsun.com/node/47492

     

    And to address your second question - I think it's important to consider not only the content of regulations on fracking, but also the size of the penalty for violating those regulations.  Evidence from PA seems to suggest that penalties for violating regulations have been set too low, meaning it's cheaper for drilling companies to pay the fines than abide by the rules. Violating the regulations thus becomes a regular part of the business model.  I think one sign of good incentives for following regulations would be that annual violations number as close to zero as possible, not in the thousands as in PA.

    One helpful provision may be to require the oil and gas industry to bear the risk of liability for an array of environmental damages through the private insurance market. If this results in less drilling, it's a good indication that the drilling wouldn't have been worth the risk - that the state was likely to lose more than it would have gained.

    Tim Krueger

     
    Mike Foley
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I think Tim is right about methane leakage in the atmosphere. I actually think its the most serious environmental threat from fracking. I worry that the time frame to deal with ghg emissions is short and that Methreat is a real problem. From what I've read it's 20-25 times more potent in terms of trapping heat than carbon, which is bad enough in the amounts we are pouring out. 

    http://www.nature.com/news/air-sampling-reveals-high-emissions-from-gas-field-1.9982

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    There are three main points of environmental hazards:

    1. Faulty gas wells. If the well is constructed poorly, many things can go wrong, including gas leaks.

    2. Faulty drinking water wells. If a drinking well is constructed poorly, substances can migrate or find their way into the drinking source.

    3. Subsurface spillage. Any wastewater (or, say, oil) could be spilled on the surface. We've seen this quite frequently with gas and oil tankers on freeways.

    Of course, there are many other variables that could impact the environment if executed incorrectly.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    See my post below, Karl.

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I'll have to chime in on this question more tonight or tomorrow, but we just posted two great piece on EcoWatch.org that goes into the issues of impacts on the environment and human health.

    Check them out here:

    Will Fracking Destroy Colorado's Rivers?

    this focuses on water withdrawl issues.

    EPA Finds Water Safe to Drink Despite Explosive Levels of Methane and Other Toxins

    this focuses on Dimock, PA and water contamination issues.

     

     
    Caitlin Johnson
    on Mar 19, 2012

    What really strikes me about the fracking process is how much land, water, and energy it consumes. Natural gas itself might be cleaner than coal, but look at how difficult it is to extract and how many potential things can happen along the way. The point is, this has to be done exactly right almost 100 percent of the time in order to truly be a cleaner, greener fuel. 

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    It does seem to be rather wasteful and counter productive doesn't it? But what shortcuts are these companies taking to maintain profits? Hiring Greenhorns? Overworking current crews? I hear talk of these guys working 80 hour weeks! I can tell you from experience, tired workers create accidents, AND sub standard product. This may be the biggest issue. 

    Also consider this, these crews are mostly from 'elsewhere', what do they care about doing a good job with reclamation, OR installing wells that are solid? In my years working commercial construction I saw many shortcuts taken that later on had to be corrected and sometimes a complete re-working of entire phases. This simply won't do with this much at risk.

    And if these companies do things correctly, AND safely, how can they possibly profit. Makes me question what the real motivation is here.

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Good Points Wes - i know how difficult it is to keep employees motivated to do top notch work - even when they live in the community and only work a 40 hour week - Overworked and a way from home with a "product" buried thousands of feet below ground makes for VERY poor quality control.

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Caitlin...I am not sure why your question for some is so hard to understand.  It has to be done right 100% of the time or we could have an environmental disaster that will take years to clean up.

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Mr. Hagan, first I would like to express my admiration for you sir. Standing up for constituents, and ignoring Big $ from Big Oil isn't something most politicians can do. It's too bad you seem to be the exception. Huzzah to you sir!

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 22, 2012

    First Mr. Hagen, I too wish to commemorate you for standing up for your citizens - and for all of us. Wes makes a great point that going against big business is not easy.

    One thing that struck me about your post is where you say "could take years to clean up". Due to the nature of the toxic fluids being used, and the radiological material involved, there is no cleaning up of these messes when they occur. That is why the privatization of water is a booming business. Once it is all polluted, any clean (or clean enough) available water will be sold to the highest bidders. The drilling industry is not the only driving force, but it is certainly exacerbating the issue.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Dan, one big piece you're missing, and people often miss, is the raw materials and supplier end of the environmental impacts. Take Lafarge's cement plant in Whitehall, PA. The plant supplies cement for well casings, is situated next to a residential community, and burns tires as a fuel to fire the cement kiln. It emits over three tons of benzene and a thousand tons of carbon monoxide a year into the air every year. Burning tires also emits dioxin, the most cancerous chemical known to science, but the PA DEP doesn't track that, so I can't give you numbers.

    Every frack job requires chemical manufacturing to supply the frack fluid. "Cancer valleys" like the Ohio River valley downstream from Pittsburgh, Charleston WV, and Louisiana have a long running reputation of cancer clusters.

    Every inch of pipe and every rig requires steel. Steel requires coke. Older coke plants, like the one in Clairton PA, have not been retrofitted to minimize emissions (benzene is one) and cause cancer clusters. Clairton has one of the top five cancer rates in the country. The United Steelworkers have long campained to clean up the coke facility there, but US Steel doesn't care about their workers and their families living nearby (no surprises).

    Then there's the issue of wet gas supplying petrochemical plants like the Godzilla Shell ethane cracker plant sited for Beaver County in SW PA. The cracker will not only use dangerous chemicals itself, but will supply ethylene to plastics manufacturers which have a history of migrating toward crackers and creating cancer clusters in their wake.

    I also want to point out the terrible record well pad and pipeline contstruction companies have abiding by erosion and sediment control regulations. The number one pollutant in creeks and streams in Pennsylvania is silt and soil runoff. It diminishes the quality of our trout streams, the business of our boat liveries, and the pristine scenic character of our rural areas (which impacts local tourism and property values, which isn't environmental, but contributes to my argument that this industry is ridiculous).

    Then there's the issue of siting water withdrawals. The federal Susquehanna River Basin Commission, for example, which includes President Obama, and the governors of PA, MD, and NY just permitted at least 34 gas industry-related water withdrawals for up to 3 million gallons a day from the basin, on top of what they've approved for years prior. There are many problems with this, the most obvious and tragic is the displacement of people who live along the river basin. Here's our latest refugee story from Pennsylvania: http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/575944/32-unit-village-no-more.html?nav=5011The other problem with water withdrawals is their drawing down of the Susquehanna during drought periods (which we're bound to have this spring and summer due to the warm winter). Last year during the Susquehanna's floods, the Army Corps of Engineers did not empty the flood-control reservoirs during the drought season because they were preparing for a drought that is magnified by the scale of gas drilling-related water withdrawals, not expecting the hurricane and tropical storm.

    Water withdrawals local impacts on streams can warm the streams as they get shallow, depleting habitat for cold-water native trout.

    Also, I'll put the issue of open air containment of wastewater from fracking. If you're a duck and you see a frack pit, you don't know it's a frack pit until you land in it. If you're a deer, and you smell the salty brine of the frack pit, you might take a drink and either fall in the pit or be poisoned. The problem with game animals and waterfowl consuming carcinogenic waste during periods where they're storing fat for the winter, for me, is HUGE because I am a sportsman and I eat those animals and fat stores carcinogens more efficiently.

    Now the industry will tell you that they're recycling frack water now. That may be true, but does a layperson understand that process? I thought it was a move in the right direction until I looked into the Williamsport PA facility. It works like this: frack water is trucked to the "recycling facility", the facility removes the solids, stores the waste in tanks, and the company comes to pick it up to use again later. Well, you might ask, upon further investigation, what happens to the solids? The answer? They're turned into "frack cakes" and trucked to a landfill. Landfill effluent, or runoff, is a HUGE problem in PA, because we accept so much trash from other states. So you're putting concentrated toxic solids into the landfill, it gets wet with rain and other juices, then is treated at the onsite plant (which mostly just dilutes), and sent on its way downstream. On top of all that, these "recycling facilities" are vying for permits from PA DEP to discharge into the rivers when there's a surplus of frack water, the exact problem they are supposed to be preventing.

    Then there's the drill cuttings. Landfills like the Keystone Landfill in Dunmore, PA, next to Scranton, run by mafioso Louis DeNaples who magically escaped 35 years in prison following a grand jury investigation for misleading PA regulators about his mob connections while opening the Mt. Airy casino, accept up to 1,000 tons a day of drill cuttings from Marcellus drillers. The cuttings include radioactive compounds like Radium 226 that occur within the strata they're drilling into. The waste water from fracking is awash in this radioactive materials as well, and of course we discussed what happens to it in the last paragraph.

    With the biggest corporations in the world (oil and gas), the federal government, our state governments, and even the mafia supporting and propping up the drilling, I don't see how anyone who isn't being paid off can think shale development can or will be done safely.

    If you think about the entire natural gas industry and it's cumulative effcts, it's hard not to wonder 'why the hell aren't we investing that trillion dollars into alternatives?' and ditching drilling.

    Why is our society putting all this investment into a temporary source of energy that will cause so much destruction? The answer, my friend, is a billion cubic feet of pennies to be made.

     

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thanks for joining the conversation Alexander.  Great points.  This conversation is for two more days and I hope you'll stay connected.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    If the points I made don't convince people, then there's probably nothing I can say that would. Call me an environmental extremist, but I don't even identify as an environmentalist (what does "environmentalist" even mean anymore?) and I'm just a gun-totin' union ground technician and avid sportsman. I usually sideline during debates like this. I have little patience for ignorance or people who would look at shale development as a net benefit. It's not. It's clearly not. Not if it's taxed, not if it's waxed. It's not.

    Anyone in this conversation ought to come clean if they're on the payroll of the gas industry, leased, or in some support industry. Money talks, you know.

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    "I have little patience for ignorance or people who would look at shale development as a net benefit. It's not. It's clearly not. Not if it's taxed, not if it's waxed. It's not."

    This is where the conversation ends. You've already made it clear that you won't agree with the process, no matter the regulations, oversight, etc.

    You have a respectable opinion, but do you employ the same stringent standards to other industries and ways of life? 

    Driving a car can be particularly dangerous ...

    Not insinuating that anyone should change their mind, but instead they should be willing to look at it from both sides. 

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Karl, yes, I do apply the same stringent standards to other industries and ways of life.

    I live a humble life in the woods. I work in the tourism industry, stewarding the land so that millions of people a year can enjoy the rural region where I live. I question the use of pesticides like atrazine on farms here.

    I have fought industrial wind farm proposals that would clear the tops of mountains, wrecking the property values of people below, the recreational value of the ridge, and the rare habitat that exists at higher elevations.

    My county's residents fought off the biggest dam/hydroelectric proposal east of the Mississippi for over 40 years (the Tocks Island Dam) that was meaning to flood the Delaware Water Gap with a 40-mile lake to generate electricity and fresh water for NYC and Philly. The entire project required the eminent domain condemning of farmers and landowners, many of whom wouldn't budge and are still there today.

    There's no reason why solar (with rare minerals obtained safely and at a living wage), small wind turbines, geothermal, and micro-hydro couldn't fulfill the energy needs of our society. The problem is, all that brain power, tax breaks, and subsidies in the energy sector are being devoted to dirty energy.

    There are two sides to drilling. You're either for or against it.

    People have called me a caveman who wants us all to live in a cave. That's not true. I say to them, THEY'RE the ones who are unwilling to innovate energy alternatives. They're the ones who want us to live off of unnecessary fossil fuels, that pass off all their externalities onto me and my people, when we clearly have the smarts and the resources to do something safe and responsible.

    I say to you, you're a journalist in Youngstown, a place devastated by industries past that left the working people there with crumbs. Why would you want to advocate for an extractive industry that's going to pack up and abandon us when the gas is gone?Why not bring in something permanent to places that need jobs, like electric car components, or wind turbine assembly, or solar panel assembly, or green construction materials that could be used to weatherize aging Rustbelt homes, or geothermal installation to *displace* the need for natural gas? We could even upgrade our electric grid that is inefficient at transporting electricity while at the sametime decentralizing electricity production, offering tax breaks for people who put solar panels and wind turbines on their homes.

    God I could go on, but like I said, if you aren't convinced now, you're not going to be.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Alexander, I think you make a good point in saying that we clearly have the smarts and resources to do something safe and responsible. Do we really want to push ahead with something that is entirely unsustainable? Let alone the potential for environmental catastrophe, fracking for natural gas will eventually cease to produce the energy we need. If we are so short-sighted and irresponsible, then we have learned nothing of the lessons of history. We have the opportunity to be extraordinarily innovative in meeting our energy needs, but we're still focused on poking holes in the ground.

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Here here! You make too much sense Alexander. As a fellow 'caveman' I see the potential as well for small scale, low impact electrical generation. In fact we don't even have one gas appliance IN THIS HOUSE! 

    My Gf grew up here, and she has NEVER seen fish in our little stream in years past (it took almost 50 years for them to come back). Now there are brook trout, shellfish, and crawdads, not to mention several species of rare frog, and salamander on our property. Several are endangered in fact. Do we really value corporate profits over species lost forever to this filthy industry? Will we lose migratory birds and mammals forever? For what? A quick buck? 

    As a fellow sportsman, I share your concern and refusal to accept this 'boom' as something good for America. It's only good for the company owners and investors. And for those who 'regulate' or 'permit' these companies to run over the environment roughshod. 

    What can I say about Youngstown? Nothing that shouldn't already be clear to anyone who knows history.

    But some people refuse to learn from the past, and are therefore doomed to repeat it. Our children will be left with this permanent legacy of tainted water, ruined land, and violated public trust.

    Someone change my mind. It would be so much easier to love the frac. But we can't drink acetone. We can't eat well cuttings. And we surely can't breath methane. 

     

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Karl, I appreciate your prodding the discussion along. You present yourself as a very bright lad.

    Cars: We've learned alot of lessons from cars, haven't we?

    Let's look at just a few VERY important lessons.

    They are dangerous. Especially when in the hands of the inexperienced, the exhausted, and the "chemically enhanced". 

    They now have extraordinary safety features don't they? Shatterproof glass, anti-lock brakes, airbags, SEAT BELTS, and crumple zones. Despite all the safety, people still die. 

    What are the tangible safety features of fracking? Do they outweigh the dangers?

    Are we limiting exposure to failure?

    Is 'crash testing' ongoing?

    Do we have a recycling program for the materials involved? 

    And if only 5-10% of fracking operations go horribly wrong, how many incidents would that be?

    I really would like to believe that fracking IS safe, clean, and responsible.

    Right now, it looks really bad. Again, what I SEE, is all bad. 

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Karl you are starting to sound like an veteran politician I know.  I agree we need to understand the scope and direction of this "new" industry, but as you have noted, those of us using caution are not against the process, just more inclined to mistrust an industry that has a questionable past on protecting the envrironment over their bottome line.

    I have learned and gained an incredible amount of information through your reporting and that of others who have given us more information.  I understand and hope you do, that my responsiblity lies with protecting the people that I represent whether it shows itself through a disregard for the environment, or a Industry that is hell bent in riding roughshod over an area that they think they can take advantage of through misleading job numbers or promises of finding gold at the end of the rainbow.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Alexander I think your post does a great job of bringing the main environmental issue to the fore: the CUMULATIVE effects of thousands upon thousands of these wells, not to mention the compressor stations, crackers, and pipelines. When we talk about a single well, it's easy to say "well, it's just a few more trucks... and a few million gallons of this stuff... and can be recycled in time, and the runoff can be controlled... and the radioactive tailings can be dealth with somehow... etc. etc. That can sound like it's just this and that technical challange that can be overcome.

    The reality is we're talking about the massive industrialization of an entire region, by thousands of unregulated players, and by an industry that at this point is inherently toxic and inherently boom and bust. The track record is already there in PA.

    And it's all to recover a resource that is currently at a historically low price, where half the energy you're getting out has to be poured back in, probably the worst EROI of anything but tar-sands.

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Darrel, you missed it pal, there are nearly 2 million of these wells already in America. If these modern age Vandals get their way, there will around half a million wells in Ohio. There are already 400,000 plus in PA alone.

    I think we have to throw this industry under the bus, and do it yesterday....

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 19, 2012

    And as for environmental hazards, what about the possibility that excessive horizontal fracking in one area could increase the potential for water supply contamination by dramatically altering and cracking the rock formation between frack sites and the aquifier?

     
    Expand This Thread
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    As I understand it, at both the producing well and disposal wells, the only thing standing between the regional water table and millions of gallons of toxic and potentially radioactive brine is a 2000 foot "straw" of concrete. Is the idea that this process is safe dependent on this concrete holding up? For how long? Is there any assurance that thousands of these concrete pours, conducted by scores of separate companies, are going to hold up for decades? Are they continually inspected? How do you address it thousands of feet down if it does start to fail? How many problems can we expect at current failure rates given the many thousands of wells being projected?

    I'd love to hear specific information from an industry source. Beyond the "don't worry, it's perfectly safe."

     

    Responses(3)

    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Darrel:  This is Gwen again.  I'd like to add to your concern that I've read a number of industry articles from experts about all the things that can go wrong with cement.  When you add in the number of blowouts and other serious problems with wells (both vertical and horizontal) that are balmed on faulty cement, this "protection" seems even more uncertain.

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 19, 2012

    The "nightmare" scenario I think you are concerned about here is where fracking water flowback is returned up the well bore, and there is a failure in the cement casing at the location of the water acquifer, thereby letting the flowback water to contaminate the acquifer.   The short answer to your question is that fracking water flow back occurs principally in the first 2-3 weeks after completion activity in the well.  If the well is cased properly, there is little risk this will happen during this time period.  After that very little fracking flowback water will escape from the reservoir.  So the risk for this scenario is primarily in the first month after completion.   You can find a detailed explanation of this in the following paper, which is the most comprehensive study I have seen:

    SPE 152596Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbor and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells.

    That does not mean that casing failure will never be a problem years from now -- indeed this is the principal problem we keep hearing about.  Production goes on for another 30 years, and this includes lots of bad stuff to have in your drinking water -- like natural gas or brine containing naturally occuring radioactive materials.   We need to regulate and monitor wells long term.

    To me, this is one of the biggest problems facing the oil and gas industry:  "best practices" for regulatory agenices are set by the industry.  Regulators simply don't know what best practices are without that input.  After BP and Fukushima, we know there are limitations to engineering that even the best industry engineers miss that are potentially catastrophic.  Yet we need the energy; we can't stop drilling and producing oil and gas.  We need to rethink the problem of regulatory capture.  In Ohio, this starts with hiring the top regulatory staffers, keeping them independent from the oil and gas industry, and paying them wages competitive with that industry. 

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thanks Andrew. For anyone interested here is a working link I found for Andrew's source. Though it's produced by Apache Energy, it certainly does seem to be comprehensive in scope.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=spe%20152596%20hydraulic%20fracturing%20101%3A%20what%20every%20representative%2C%20environmentalist%2C%20regulator%2C%20reporter%2C%20investor%2C%20university%20researcher%2C%20neighbor%20and%20engineer%20should%20know%20about%20estimating%20frac%20risk%20and%20improving%20frac%20performance%20in%20unconventional%20gas%20and%20oil%20wells.&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC8QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pepanz.org.nz%2FpepanzDocuments%2FSPE%2520Fraccing.pdf&ei=k3VnT_7jI8iKsQKN-Mm2Dw&usg=AFQjCNGclJPrXc_fowbx37Z9s7wlujbwjg&cad=rja

    I wonder if folks can see the irony in what I think is a great point you make-- that the only source of information on this process comes from industry itself, and that the biggest problems for the industry right now is that they have been left writing their own rules on this stuff. With near complete control over information and regulation, the question will be whether an idustry that is itself fractured into many smaller players can avoid overstepping it's regulatory freedom, to the point of creating a publically visible disaster, and thus an equally poswerfull backlash. I'm guessing that the fact that most of this happens far underground, and that frac fluids cannot be traced or proven to come from a particular source, is likely to increase economic risk taking.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 10:40 am

    I'd like to pull out this idea of local control for a bit more examination. Karl, Stefanie and Kari all mentioned it, but I'm not sure all of us understand what is meant by the term "local control." Thee  articles that Stefanie links to are both about localities that want to ban fracking (so, presumably, just about all drilling). Is that all "local control" means? The ability to locally ban a practice? Is there some other element to the enterprise that local control would address?

     

    Responses(16)

    Brad Whitehead
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I sure hope "local control" is about a lot more than that.  To my mind, local/central control issues revolve around drilling rights, drilling practices, infrastructure development, and use of revenues.  While I believe we need to have state-wide standards for what we expect to see, it may be that local communities will want to include some additional/different conditions.

    For instance, Tom Chema led a team of faculty (and others?) at Hiram College to determine what practices they expected to see regarding water management and other drilling practices before they agreed to lease their rights on the college's lands.  Incidentally, I understand they did this through a pretty extensive engagement process.

    I could imagine other levels of government coming together with their citizens to determine what they wished their local strategies to be different than the minimum developed at the state level.

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012

    That's interesting, Brad. I wonder if Brooks Miller and Dave Crandall might be able to tell us what impact control by lots of different localities would have on the industry. This is the constant home-rule problem, I realize, that if there's a patchwork of regulations that change from community to community, industry (any industry) complains that it becomes very difficult to understand and meet the expectations. Brooks  and Dave, is there a local control "goldilocks" spot?

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012

    As a citizen I would like to see local control to address issues of set back from rivers, lakes and streams (currently ony 50 ft. per ODNR) and consideration given to reducing fragmentation of the landscape.

    I am concerned that the downside of this could be social justice issues... with areas of lower income / less political clout having a disproportionate number of Frack sites.

     
    Jill Miller Zimon
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Just a reminder (having had this come up in City Council before): Stefanie does reference the Ohio reality that local control was eliminated in her very first comment:

    "In 2004, under HB 278, the Ohio General Assembly revoked all local authority over oil and gas drilling in the state, including revocation of local zoning authority in regards to oil/gas drilling.  This makes Ohio different from other states including New York where communities have the right to ban fracking.  Also under HB 278, the “urbanized drilling” program was passed.  This program allows drilling in urban areas, now as close as 150 feet from inhabited structures."

    I'd like to emphasize that this be kept in mind as folks expand or focus in on the discussion around "local control."

     
    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Absolutely true. I think that the current Ohio law puts us in a very tight box- shouldn't this be a place for out of the box ideas? Laws can be changed to reflect new developments in technology or discoveries of previously unknown hazards.

     
    John Mitterholzer
    on Mar 19, 2012

    One of the "local control" issues that is not discussed enough is the long-term impact these sites will have on the communities surrounding them.  They have the potential to become a new set of brownfield sites across the state. 

    Our urban areas are already struggling with an almost insurmountable number of brownfield sites, what happens to our smaller communities when, they too, have to deal with brownfield sites.  Part of the local control conversation needs to focus more on the long-term impacts these sites will have.  Who will own them, who is responsible for cleanup, etc?

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 19, 2012

    This is a very good point, and one that I have never seen squarely addressed in my years working in the oil and gas industry, except by the Minerals Management Service for offshore drilling.   In many ways, the "pads" at the drill site for horizontal wells operate more like an offshore platform than a normal drilling location, since it is the center of ongoing drilling activity that can last years.   This means the foot print will be much larger than at traditional locations.  Offshore, there are regulations requiring an elaborate decommissioning protocol, including posting of bonds in the millions of dollars.   Onshore, most states (and my oil and gas law practice has been in Louisiana) have plug and abandonment requirements, but do not otherwise have much to say about returning the property to its original condition.  Private leases do normally have these sorts of conditions.  But where the mineral rights are severed, there is little incentive to enforce this condition.  Further, as production dwindles, the properties are sold to smaller and smaller companies who have less wherewithal to undertake this obligation.  Companies with marginal production have little incentive to spend on land reclamation.  And there is nothing more daunting for a landowner than to try to litigate for non-monetary damages (good luck finding a plaintiff's lawyer for that!) against an underfunded oil and gas company.   Finally, it must be remembered that these wells will likely produce for 30 years, even without refracturing.   There is no obligation to return the property to its original condition so long as the lease is held by production -- all of these costs are deferred until, well, most oil and gas managers are retired or dead.    It would be interesting to go down to Louisiana and Texas to see how they are dealing with the maturation of their onshore oii and gas business in this regard.  Are there brownfields being left behind, and what are they doing about it?  My guess is very little, other than the orphan well program (which we have in Ohio), which does not address the land reclamation issue. 

     
    Jan Dregalla
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thanks for bringing this up...accountablity seems questionable for "accidents" and abandoned wells and their effect upon the land.  For instance, the earthquakes in Youngstown...how can that even be quantified since they are expected to go on for a while.  Who is responsible for repair of things caused by earthquakes that are proven to be caused by injection of fracking fluids.  What does that even look like?  It's a slippery slope.  I would want some kind of realistic commitment from those drilling that back up their claims of "drilling is done safely". 

     
    Mike Foley
    on Mar 19, 2012

    One of the concepts that other states have in terms of structuring their severance tax systems is to create a local impact fund out of a portion of the revenues created from the tax.  Basically, a portion of the tax collected goes back to areas affected by drilling for both additional assistance in dealing with decimated roads and bridges etc., but also for the time in the future when the wells are tapped out.  It creates an ongoing fund for economic development for the inevitable bust period.

     
    Dan Pilkington
    on Mar 19, 2012
    Representative Foley, I applaud your work to bring severance taxes in line with other states.  Are there any other bills underway with respect to 1) reversing the state override of local control, and 2) regulating how and where fracking is done?  
    Mike Foley
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Hi Dan, sorry, I just got back from back to back to back meetings. I'm not sure about restoring local control. I know that it has been discussed by various members, but amidst the bunch of legislation that has been introduced, I'm not sure if there is a specific bill on that topic. Rep. Mark Okey who lives in Carrolton in the heart of fracking territory is introducing legislation soon that would:

    ·         Establish a minimum royalty of fifteen percent (15%) on oil and gas

    ·         The right to audit a company’s records to allow a landowner to verify the accuracy of royalty payments.

    ·         Increase the minimum well setback to 750 feet, from 500 feet, from any property line.

    ·         Establish a minimum lateral or horizontal line setback of 750 feet from any property not in the unit or pool.

    ·         Establish 1280 acres as the state maximum unit or pool size.

    ·         Enforce ORC 1509.31 that requires written notification to landowner if their lease is assigned.

    ·         Require written notification to landowner if their property is included in a unit or pool.

    ·         The right to a one-time payment in lieu of free gas.

    ·         Truth in leasing by landmen, including the licensing of all landmen in Ohio.

    ·         Independent testing of well and ground water before and after fracking, free of cost to landowner.

    ·         Disclosure of all chemicals used in the fracking process.

    ·         Require written notification to landowner when any accident occurs on their property or damages their property.

    ·         Companies to hold landowners harmless from all damages or injuries arising from operations on their property.

    ·         Operators to pay for all oil, gas, and water used or taken from a landowner’s property.

    ·         The right to request a “no drilling” lease.

    ·         The right to request a Surface Use Agreement as part of any lease.

    Its not local control, but would give more rights to landowners.

     
    Brad Whitehead
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Mike,

    I appreciate your comment greatly.

    We have suggested using at least a portion of the severance taxes to create an Utica Shale Trust that could be used for several purposes including:

    > Covering adverse negative environmental or social impacts

    > Funding long-term economic objectives (i.e., we need to make sure that we don't suffer from "Dutch Disease" in which a transitory boom actually leaves us worse off over the long term; might we use these dollars to help pay for the diversification of our economy? Perhaps this could even be the replacement for the Third Frontier)

    > Education funding

    Several other states and countries have used Trusts or Sovereign Wealth Funds to manage the gains from resource wealth more strategically.  Included among these are Montana (coal) and Norway (petroleum). 

    Basically, the extraction of shale oil/gas is the monetization of a long-term natural resource asset - we should not use the sale of such an asset simply for current income purposes. 

     
    Jason Segedy
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Good point. Local control now also means local responsibility later. To use an example from unsustainable retail: North Randall has local control of Randall Park Mall and Akron has local control of Rolling Acres Mall. These one-time economic boons have now become albatrosses. No one knows how to pick up the pieces and the original profiteers have cut-and-run.

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Hi Jason

    Actually it is a little different with oil and gas.  While localities can not decide locations (local control) or other health and safety stipulations... the state is still forcing them into the local communities in many cases and without the proper protections many would like.  Thus, the locality will still deal with the long term care and feeding and liability and expense of the wells much like your mall examples.

     
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    When I think of local control, with regard to petroleum extraction especially, I think of the fact that our local zoning board can decide whether I can or cannot build a shed a certain distance from my house or property line, or whether I or my neighbor can set up a noisy automobile repair shop in my neighborhood, or a chemical factory that might emit pollution, but cannot decide whether a highly industrial process, involving 1,000 trucks for each well, taking up 5-14 acres of land being covered by cement, access roads, pipeline rights of way, compressor stations, just because my neighbor was not told all the details, and signed a lease because s/he needed some money. What kind of democracy is it, when unelected officials and issue permits to allow that in my community?   ---Gwen Fischer

     

     

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Here here! It has a name, but I assure you, it's NOT Democracy. Nor is it a Republic that lets this sort of dog and pony show pass for "authority. 

     

     
    Expand This Thread
    George Carr
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 10:32 am

    One of the issues that most concerns me is the measurement of impact on Ohio, in each topic under discussion. When we talk about the money being made, how much of it stays in Ohio? When we talk about the jobs being created, how many of them go to long-term Ohioans? When we talk about the chemicals being used or pollution being created, how much stays in Ohio? I feel handicapped in this debate because so much of the information I've found is slanted. Drillers make claims about employment and profits that omit how many people they're bringing in from out of state or how much of their earnings are declared out of state. Environmentalists make claims about polluting chemicals but omit what quantities of them stay in the Ohio/regional watertable, and what quantities are shipped elsewhere for disposal.

    So some sort of trusted (crowdsourced?) figures or charts about these issues would be super-helpful to me, and I would think to activists on all sides of the issues. Pointing out that 8 million gallons of fluid is used in a typical well frack sounds scary to environmentalists until one considers that Ohio gets a million gallons of rainfall per acre per year. And creating jobs sounds great to pro-development people until one discovers that most of those claimed jobs are in the driller's headquarters state, not in Ohio. So I'd like to see some infographics (=most effective way to convey and spin numerical information) that address the various claims in play.

    I'd look to the academics and journalists for this sort of analysis, but I know their resources are limited. So perhaps part of this Conversation could be pointing out who else is already engaged in that sort of work in other states, so we don't start from scratch here in Ohio.

    And on a related point, are there states that should be viewed as models of how the system can work well? Alaska, for instance, appears to make vast public money from its natural resources without despoiling its beautiful ecology, but perhaps I'm ignorant of the real story there. I just feel like oil/gas booms aren't new, we ought to be able to look to other regions for obvious mistakes that can be avoided, or obviously helpful regulations/policies.

     

    Responses(8)

    David J. Crandall
    on Mar 19, 2012
    George, I think the Ohio Shale Coalition's recent report does a fair job of projecting the impact of the shale development in Ohio. It is far more conservative than other reports I have seen from industry. Interstingly, I was in Carrol County last week. A couple concerns which speak to your point about local employees were raised. First, we don't have people trained to operate the multi-million dollar drilling rigs, so the developers are bringing experienced operators from other oil fields. However, as the industrty matures to the production and processig phase, we will likely seem more local participation. Certain other services like trucking are seeing an immediate impact.  
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    David, what would your basis be for prefering the Ohio Shale Coalition's report to the Swank OSU study? The latter used a methodology based on actual outcomes in Pennsylvania instead of self-reported industry plans as in the former. Not surprisingly, the OSC's report managed to find about 400% more jobs.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I agree about the immediate impact with trucking. I live in Hiram, near the intersection of state routes 82 and 700, and already we're seeing significant tanker traffic through that intersection, despite there not being a single operating well around here yet that I'm aware of. I'm guessing most of it is waste from Pennsylvania going to the injection well. It's hard to imagine what this is going to be like once hundreds of wells are online.

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    George it's my understanding that not only is all of the ohio produced frack brine disposed in Ohio, a large portion of the Pennsylvania stuff is trucked over here as well as they have no injection well sites because of geology. If anyone knows differently I'd like to hear about it.

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Darrel

     

    My point exactly on the so called brine, that I prefer to call it what it really is, Toxic waste.  It is being shipped here from Pa and Ny, because they will not allow the injection of the chemicals into their systems whether it is an injection well or Waste Water treatment plants, because they know it will not be good for their environment.  Now what we do here in Ohio should be a wake up call for protection.

     

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Bob, It's my understanding that you have proposed a bill to the house that would place a moratorium on injection of brine. What is the status of that bill and what is the potential for it to be approved?

     
    Tonya Higgins
    on Mar 20, 2012

    George -

    I think you bring up legitamite concerns that many "everyday" people are dealing with.

    First, let's look at the debate between evironmentalists vs industry. Both are persuasive and biased. Yet, industry profits from their endeavors, environmentalists do not. As an environmentalist, I do not want to spend my time arguing against polllution - I really don't. I want to live in a world where one does not have to wonder if their air is clean, their water safe to feed to their children, and the soil safe to grow healthy food. Environmentalists are believers in preventative measures and use of critical thinking/foresight. Industry are believers in profit.

    Now, for the water. The earth has 92,546,618 billion gallons of potable fresh water. http://www.pacinst.org/reports/water_fact_sheet/

    We do not get more water. This is what is used by all life on the planet, including 7 billion people. Rain does not add to the water supply; it is just evaporated water that is in its cycle.

    This water is contaminated already by industrial practices, and already gives us high rates of cancer, etc. If each horizontal well contaminates 8 million gallons of water and renders it unusable in any fashion, after just the 12,000 wells proposed by one company in just Ohio over the next 10 years, we are looking at one company, in one state, removing 96 billion gallons of freshwater from the cycle and storing it beneath our feet. Again, that is just one company, in one state. Never before have we seen this done at this rate. And to do so admist a warming planet (one can dispute humans place in it happening, but no one can dispute that it IS happening) seems like quite the gamble -- at least to me. For example, Texas, a state widely known for its oil production, has seen a great boom with the shale plays. Last year, they suffered from, and are still suffering from a horrific drought. Now, call it a coincidence, but doesn't it seem only logical that this boom played a part in this?

    And yes, Ohio has been on the receiving end of toxic waste for a long time now. We are an "industry friendly" state. I first learned this as a child when toxic waste was slated for Trumbull County. We have made great advances in cleaning our area up, but are heading down a slippery slope I fear. We will receive toxic drilling fluid from at least our 3 neighboring states that require injection well disposal. Some other states let the wast evaporate into the air, or dump it into the local rivers and streams.

    Also, bear in mind, water knows no political boundaries. We share our water with all of the planet. So in states where dumping is allowed, it will eventually be seen in our waterways.

    Wow, sorry for the long winded post. I hope it was helpful to someone.

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    I have to wonder what type of protection is in place when we have a large earthquake and all those wells (particularly injection wells) break down.  Or twenty years in the future when Chesapeake has moved on, and we have no one maintaining the wells - concrete and steel fail eventually.  We already have tons of old wells and mines that are not even on anyone's maps.  What happens to the water table then?

     
    Expand This Thread
    Brad Whitehead
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 9:26 am

    It seems that we may have hit upon our first point of agreement:  that the broader community (not just those who happen to be following this week's conversation on the Commons), needs to engage in a structured dialogue around what we want from Utica Shale gas development. 

    This would appear to be a "no regrets" move and we at the Fund stand ready to partner with others in such an effort.   conditions for success: the effort is highly visible and broadly participative; it is recognized as independent and objective; the effort is committed to education and the framing of real choices; and the process moves towards real decisions.

    Already, we signs of increasing polarization.  The current battle between Republicans about what is/is not a tax is merely the "next" manifestation of the potential divisiveness of the issue.  We have seen and will increasingly see inflamed passions on a host of other issues.  And in my conversations around the region, people seem to crave a reasoned conversation around how best to navigate this opportunity with the long term in mind.

    Yes.  Broad-based civic dialogue.  Soon. 

     

    Responses(1)

    Kathryn Hanratty
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I am concerned that the environmental costs are not weighed evenly - largely because it is so difficult to place a value on ecosystem services, clean water, breathable air etc... Then even harder to quantify the intangible services... most of us can feel the peace and majesty of untrammeled nature but how do we place a value on that?

     
    Expand This Thread
    Mike Foley
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 8:48 am

    So...two big concerns for me. 1) environmental - fracking is supposed to produce a cleaner fuel to burn in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but studies like this one http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/04/fracking-methane/ show that the leakage of methane gas into the atmosphere are a potential net negative in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

    2) Revenue -assuming Ohio goes full bore into this stuff, our system of taxation is so woefully inadequate, as is, I believe Gov. Kasich's new proposal.  Rep. Bob Hagan and I are introducing legislation to raise the Severance tax to 7% of the value of oil and gas sold. Right now, the current tax is so low as to be meaningless. (Roughly 30 cents per cubic foot of volume sold for natural gas and 20 cents per barrel of oil.) Most other states tax per the value, not the volume of the product, with ranges from 5-7.5% being the norm.  

     

    Responses(5)

    Mike Foley
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Sorry, I just want to offer some clarification on my post.  The tax rates should be roughly 3 (2.5 cents/mcf plus fee from SB 165) cents per mcf, not 30.  The rate on oil is technically 10 cents/barrel with another 10 cents fee from SB 165.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Pegging the states economy to fracking by taxing it is not necessarily going to roll it back. If you have environmental concerns, taxing it is not a regulation or a restriction. It's an incentive for legislators to losen regs to draw more drillers into the state.

    Take Pennsylvania for example: We allowed casinos. First slots, then table games, then expansions, then more new construction, all because the revenue is supposed to be the bread and butter of the education budget. Ultimately, companies like Sands, owned by a rich guy with sleezy politics living in Nevada, made out on the big bucks while Pennsylvania eats the cost of money-funnels situated in population centers.

    If you support a tax, however, for the reason of costing the companies more money so that they drill less, I support that. I want to hit these guys with every hoop and hurdle that's politically possible so that social movement strategies like institutional divestment, law suits, citizen enforcement, and blockades of expensive operations have more of an impact.

     
    Lawrence Hall
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I'm happy to see someone mention global warming (especially a politician); it doesn't get talked about nearly enough.  It looks like you linked to the earlier of two studies that came from that group of researchers.  After different scientists from Cornell questioned the claims, Horwath et al came out with an updated version of their study around the beginning of this year using even more data.  I have them both in pdf, but I'm sure they can be found online with a little searching.

    Further, EPA released air samples from a gas field in Colorado http://www.nature.com/news/air-sampling-reveals-high-emissions-from-gas-field-1.9982 showing the so-called fugitive emissions even higher than the figures used by Horwath.

    Given these concerns, it's very possible that the extraction of shale gas will have a net negative economic impact when considering the remediation necessary to deal with global warming, not to mention the other assorted health and environmental impacts related to all aspects of fracking.  Natural gas may be just like coal - see this Harvard study on how coal actually harms the economy: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/coal-costs-us-public-up-to-500-billion-annually-harvard-study.html

    To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park: "we got so caught up in seeing if we could, we didn't stop to think if we should".  Maybe the best course of action is just to leave the gas in the ground.  It's not going anywhere; it'll be there to extract if/when we can do so in a safe manner in the future.  There are plenty of people who will say we can't do that because none of the other states around the Marcellus will do it, and we'll lose out economically.  But that's a tragedy of the commons at its finest.

    Espcially considering this study that explains why natural gas CANNOT be used as a bridge fuel if we expect to avoid catastrophic global warming: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/01/428764/ddrop-in-warming-requires-rapid-massive-deployment039-of-zero-carbon-power-not-gas/ (actual study is linked to in the article).

    I don't mean to sound like a Luddite who wants everyone to set the thermostat at 50 and wear 6 Snuggies.  The bottom line is every dollar spent on fossil fuels is a dollar not spent on renewable energy.  The science made clear that we needed to heavily invest in alternatives 20 years ago, yet we still haven't.

    Sorry for the super long post

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Lawrence, what's wrong with the Luddites?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Mike is right about the issues that remain unresolved.  Apparently the Majority party is not really concerned about the environment and continues to define those of us wanting more information as enviromental crazies, or something similar to deflect from the reall issues at hand...like a fair tax on an industry that pays a mere pittance to take millions out of our state.

     
    Expand This Thread
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012 - 6:50 am

    This question was provided to all panelists in advance so they can respond at 8:30 a.m.

    Different stakeholders have very different concerns about how development of Ohio's shale resources will proceed. What are the concerns that are particular to your stakeholder group? And what are concerns you have that you believe are shared by the broader community?

      

    Responses(51)

    Dr. Jeffrey  Dick
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Looking at the development of shale gas from an academic/educational point of view, I am concerned with making sure the general population of the areas affected by shale gas development are informed with factual information and are aware of how development activities may impact water resources, the physical landscape, and the ecomomy on the region. These concerns are shared by the broader community, however; many individuals and organizations have been influenced by environmental extremist and industry groups having political, economic and social agendas that have little to do with the real issues that face the residents of eastern Ohio.

     
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Hi Jeffrey, This is Gwen again.   I couldn't agree with you more that the general population ought to have factual information.  To my mind, this information has been lacking----especially the part about the massive industrialization with thousands of trucks for years in a community, when lots of people have leased their land.  I don't think the discussion is furthered by reference to people concerned about clean air, clean water and uncontaminated soil  as "environmental extremists."  I certainly think that industry groups have a lot more influence, when one looks at the ads aired on t.v., which fail to mention the risks or the industrialization of the entire cycle of shale petroleum extraction.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    What environmental extremists are you referring to? If you're going to make a marginalizing claim like that, you should be defining who and who isn't in the path of your artillery. Sierra Club? Township officials who want to ban drilling in their township? Sportsmen who don't want drilling and open air frack water containment where they hunt deer and waterfowl? Are impacted residents with high TDS in their water environmental extremists? In other words, you sound like you have no idea who you're talking about, you just don't like what facts are coming out about drilling and you feel it necessary to taunt concerned citizens with insults. Surprising for an 'academic'.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I think Jeffry was attempting to point out that there is a lack of unbiased information available to the general public on fracking and how it will affect our communities. For people who can't devote the time and energy required to sift through the rapidly accumulating amount of information about fracking, the information they do come across is not likely to show the whole picture. How do we ensure that the general public has easy access to unbiased information, and has a clear picture of how this will apply to their communities?

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Tara, I think you don't need to defend anyone. Yet, you raise a good point. And the answer is pretty simple. You won't like it, no one in this industry will like it either. Total transparency, complete honesty, and concise information on the chemicals used.

     At a time when almost everyone in the country was hurting for money, they offered us piles. And in our desperation we took it. Now we see behind the curtain just enough to make us question. How did this happen? And what is going on?

     

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Wes, I don't think simply requiring a list of chemicals, however complete, is going to provide a clear picture to a community. How do you counter clips that show industry reps "drinking" frack water? There's no publicized consensus that the chemicals used have any significant risks. And how do you realistically show the economic benefits versus the environmental risks? I'm concerned that by the time people have the information they need to make an informed decision, it will already be too late. Fracking is underway Now, we're already behind. Can we get a comment from an oil and gas industry rep as to why we should push ahead now as opposed to waiting until more information is available? Short-term economic gain doesn't offset future costs, monetary or environmental, associated with depleted resource quality.

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Those are startling figures for injuries and deaths. And I would find it safe to say this isn't an entirely accurate 'report'. To clarify: I reckon the figures are on the low side. Injuries happen in industrial settings, having worked in commercial construction for a total of 8 years, I have seen my share of blood, and mortal injuries. Mostly due to lack of safetly training, exhausted workers, and careless individuals who don't belong in the setting at all. With that said, shouldn't we hold this highly sensitive industry to a higher standard? After all we're talking about our air, water and soil here. All at extreme risk, IF the workers involved aren't highly trained, well rested, and conscientious CRAFTSMEN.

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012

    From what I can tell, many people share your concerns, Dr. Dick. And Tara kind of nailed it--it's very hard to find clear, unbiased, well-contextualized information. The media is doing a pretty good job in the aggregate, but too often, pieces don't have the context that would really help the public understand the full picture. Too often, economic stories lack explanation of environmental costs. And too often, environmental coverage, for instance, doesn't acknowledge the role that natural gas might play as a bridge fuel. 

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Dan...what more can we do in the legislature than call for open transparent meetings to discuss these very issues.  I have an obligation to get the answers for my constitutents so that they can feel safe from the apparent dangers, protect them from the possiblities of that danger and to have it done in a series of open hearings in the peoples house.

     
    Tara Stitzlein
    on Mar 20, 2012

    I think the legislature should join other states in considering a moratorium on fracking operations. As I've said, why do we want to gamble with our resource quality? Support the continuing investigation in to long term effects of fracking before expanding operations state wide. 

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Bob, I think you guys are doing a lot of what you're supposed to do. I would encourage you and your colleagues to seek the middle ground, and, where it's possible find compromise with your colleagues across the aisle and in the Governor's office. 

     
    George Carr
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Nice that your discussion software will bleep "dick" even when it's the name of a panelist.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Natural gas is not a bridge fuel Dan. It is a trillion dollar blackhole that funnels private and public investment dollars into the hands of energy execs and investors while we eat the pollution and bust when the gas is gone. Surprise! It's just like other industries that abandon the working class. There is no net economic benefit. That's not me being an extremist, that's me living on the ground in Pennsylvania and getting jerked around by the same Bible salesmen you're defending.

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    I am involved with several groups that are addressing fracking but they are not working together in a meaningful fashion.  While sharing the information is important, I feel that we need a coordinated effort to provide some basic protections for citizens that are on their own once their local governing officials determine to open the gates, so to speak.  Two things come to mind - first there should be a requirement for county recorders or maybe the drillers to notify homeowners (and renters) that the mineral rights to properties near theirs have been leased/sold - in my case I just found out today that in November EnerVest acquired mineral rights from an old lease the previous owner had signed (and I had never seen even though I've lived here for over four years).  People cannot protect themselves and will not even know there's a problem until it's a PROBLEM, which brings me to the second point, that folks on well water need to have their water tested BEFORE the drillers start, should something happen that makes their water undrinkable.  Across the country people have lost the use of their wells but because they cannot prove their water was uncontaminated before the drilling, they have weak legal grounds to stand on - even when the State gets involved.  I called today and was told it would be $350 to have my individual well tested, and that did not include testing for radioactivity.  Communities or the State should provide this testing at reasonable rates if they intend to force citizens to deal with the consequences - and those are things that the public needs to know now, before it's too late.

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    We also need to know how to find attorneys to represent our interests - since it has been reported that the Gas Industry has been retaining all the environmental lawyers.  Is that true and is it legal for them to do so to circumvent possible prosecution?

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I am representing the concerns of many Ohio landowners, and people within the environmental and health communities.There are many concerns regarding natural gas extraction in Ohio.  Three of these concerns are:1. The inability to safely drill for natural gas using the method of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, due to the impact it has on human health, the environment and communities infrastructure.2. The lack of a safe way to manage the toxic fracking wastewater that is a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing.3. The profit-driven natural gas industry, which is proving to be nothing but a short-sighted, boom-bust business like the coal industry, is preventing the renewable energy/energy efficiency industry from taking hold and working toward a long-term sustainable energy policy for our state and nation.The country is in the midst of an unprecedented gas drilling boom—brought on by a controversial technology called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." Along with this fracking-fueled gas rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, animal deaths, industrial disasters, earthquakes, explosions and destruction of communities infrastructure.Fracking is a dangerous way to extract oil and gas from shale formations 8,000 feet below the earth's surface (depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet), and a short-sighted energy strategy. It's poisoning our air and water, and making people sick.Horizontal fracturing uses a mixture of more than 500 chemicals (including volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), sand and 2 to 8 million gallons of water under high pressure to fracture the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. Each well may be fracked up to 18 times.There are problems related to the country's gas drilling boom all across the U.S.  Earthjustice has a map that reveals these high profile related accidents from fracking.  Click here to see the map.

    The majority of these accidents are in Pennsylvania.  Ohio is on a path to repeat the same mistakes our neighboring state of Pennsylvania has made by opening its doors to the fracking industry without proper regulation or the necessary enforcement in place to make sure these wells are being properly fracked, and to protect human health and the environment.There are concerned Ohio legislatures that have written bills to protect human health and the environment from fracking, but they have been stonewalled in House or Senate committees.The bills include:SB212 – Ohio Sen. Michael J. SkindelEstablishes requirements governing well stimulation, brine disposal, and water that is used in the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells on state land, including a requirement that oil and gas permittees pay a five per cent overriding royalty for each well that is stimulated.SB 213 – Ohio Sen. Michael J. Skindel Establishes a moratorium on horizontal stimulation of oil and gas wells until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes a report containing the results of a study of the relationship of hydraulic fracturing to drinking water resources and the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management issues a report analyzing how Ohio’s rules address issues raised in the U.S. EPA report.HB 345 – Ohio Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) and Ohio Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-26)Establishes a moratorium on horizontal stimulation of oil and gas wells until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes a report containing the results of a study of the relationship of hydraulic fracturing to drinking water resources and the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management issues a report analyzing how Ohio’s rules address issues raised in the U.S. EPA report.HB351 – Ohio Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Ohio Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo)Establishes requirements governing well stimulation, brine disposal, and water that is used in the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells, including a requirement that oil and gas permittees pay a seven per cent overriding  royalty for each well that is stimulated.HB 418 – Ohio Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown)Establishes a moratorium until Jan. 1, 2015, on the disposal by injection into an underground formation of brine and other waste substances associated with the exploration or development of oil and gas resources.Here are some laws that are important to take into consideration when talking about fracking:- In 2004, under HB 278, the Ohio General Assembly revoked all local authority over oil and gas drilling in the state, including revocation of local zoning authority in regards to oil/gas drilling.  This makes Ohio different from other states including New York where communities have the right to ban fracking.  Also under HB 278, the “urbanized drilling” program was passed.  This program allows drilling in urban areas, now as close as 150 feet from inhabited structures.- In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.  In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.- In 2011, the Ohio General Assembly passed HB 133 that allows unconventional drilling on state lands, except on wildlife preserves, but including university campuses, state parklands, etc. - Under Ohio law, wastewater that is not recycled for drilling use, must be disposed of in Class 2 waste water injection wells.  We have almost 200 of these well site in Ohio.  About 50% of the toxic fracking wastewater being injected into these wells is water coming from other states, including Pennsylvania and New York. Here's where we are today:There are currently 21 massive fracking rigs in Ohio with 29 more expected by summer and 200 by the end of the year.  More than 4,000 fracked wells are expected by 2016 in Ohio.  Pennsylvania has 3,000 wells fracked.  Both states are projected to have more than 100,000 in the coming decades.Millions of acres of land have been leased for fracking in Ohio.  Chesapeake Energy, with foreign investors from France and China, is the largest player in Ohio and has leased two million acres.The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has approximately 20 inspectors and plans to double that number this year.  It's important to keep in mind that these inspectors are also responsible for the more than 64,000 active (for a total of 275,000 oil/gas wells spread over 88 counties) conventional wells in Ohio.There are a number of Ohio lawsuits by landowners suing the natural gas companies for damage to their wells and for imposing health risks on their families.  Mark and Sandra Mangan and William and Stephanie Boggs, residents of Granger Township in Medina County, said they were exposed to toxins from a gas drilling company working 2,500 feet from their homes and that the drilling operation contaminated their private water wells, their houses and land with hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial wastes.On March 9, the ODNR confirmed that the 12 earthquakes in the Youngstown area were caused by injection wells that were used as disposal sites for waste fluids produced by deep shale drilling.Issues impacting communities infrastructure:Once a permit is approved for hydraulic fracturing, this is what a community can expect as far as the number of trucks entering their community.Rig Mobilization, Site Prep, DemobilizationDrill Pad and Road Construction Equipment 10 - 45 TruckloadsDrilling Rig 30 TruckloadsDrilling Fluid and Materials 25 - 50 TruckloadsDrilling Equipment (casing, drill pipe, etc.) 25 - 50 TruckloadsCompletion Rig Mobilization/ Demobilization 15 TruckloadsWell CompletionCompletion Fluid and Materials 10 - 20 TruckloadsCompletion Equipment (pipe, wellhead) 5 TruckloadsHydraulic Fracture Equipment (pump trucks, tanks) 150 - 200 TruckloadsHydraulic Fracture Water 400 - 600 Tanker TrucksHydraulic Fracture Sand 20 - 25 TruckloadsFlow Back Water Removal 200 - 300 TruckloadsWell Production Equipment 5 - 10 TruckloadsTotal per well = 895 to 1,350 truckloadsThe rush to extract natural gas from Ohio's Marcellus and Utica Shale has diminished the transition to a cleaner, renewable energy future for Ohio.  Instead of focusing on strengthening Ohio's renewable energy portfolio standard (SB 221) and providing incentives for the investment in renewable energy generation and manufacturing, Ohio's leadership is focused on the extraction of a nonrenewable energy source that continues to lead out state in the wrong direction.

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Just a couple points of clarification:

    • The 500 chemicals statistic is a bit misleading. Yes, there is a seemingly infinite number of additives used in fracking fluid, but in no instance that I've seen have 500 been used in one frack job.
    • Drillers don't use 2-to-8 million gallons of fluid each time they frack a well. In the Utica Shale, a well may be fracked 10 times initially, 200-300 feet apart. The combined total of those frack jobs is 2 to 8 million.
    • The chemical brew is not constant. For example, hydrocholoric acid, or HCL, is the first fluid to go down a well, to clear out pathways for the natural gas. Guar gum (or a similar substance) thickens the water and sand keeps fractures open. It's not quite like making a vegetable stew -- different components are used at different times.
    • ODNR presently has about 30 inspectors overseeing roughly 68,000 wells throughout Ohio. For comparison, Texas has about 153 for nearly 400,000 wells.
    • Regulation is still lacking. ODNR came out with proposals for better fracking wastewater disposal, but many of those proposals were long ago adopted by other states. If Ohio wants to do this correctly, it shouldn't worry about catching up with regulations, it should be focused on setting the pace. Unfortunately, that has yet to happen.
     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thanks for the comments Karl.

    An article in the Akron Beacon Journal outlines the amount of chemicals used per frack.  The article examines a drilling industry-supported website that shows the fracturing of one vertical-horizontal weel in Carroll County, Ohio that required nearly 1 million pounds of liquid chemical additives.

    That well, southeast of Canton near Carrollton, used 969,024 pounds — 484.5 tons — of chemical additives. It also required 10.5 million gallons of water and 5,066 tons of sand.

    The article says the chemical additive are used as iron-control agents, corrosion inhibitors, clay stabilizers, breakers, gelling agents, friction reducers, bactericides, scale inhibitors, pH adjusting agents, cross-linking agents, solvents and surfactants.

    The website the article referrs to is www.fracfocus.org.

    The FracFocus site also gives the first look at how much fresh water is needed to frack individual Ohio wells. The average Chesapeake well in Carroll County required 5.8 million gallons of water.

    As the article notes, sometimes less water is used.  For example, the Portage County well used only 471,000 gallons of water because Chesapeake used a carbon-dioxide foam in place of water for the fracturing.

    I highly recommend reading this article.

     

     

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Stephanie,

    I too wrote an article around the same time about the chemicals involved in fracking. While I respect the writer's work immensely, I feel using tons to describe quantities of liquids does not paint an accurate picture.

    The average well uses anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 gallons of additives.

    Here's a snippet:

    "Chesapeake used nearly 5 million gallons of water — slightly more than a golf course would use in a midsummer week — approximately 850,000 gallons of sand and more than 18,000 gallons of additives, according to a disclosure form on www.fracfocus.org, a website managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

    The additives themselves are enough to fill a large, round backyard pool.

    In comparison, two other nearby Chesapeake wells used about 13,500 and 30,250 gallons of additives, respectively.

    Many of the chemical additives in the brew can be found in household cleaning, car and maintenance products, but in exponentially higher quantities than for everyday use.

    Their concentration levels varied.

    Among the chemicals blasted down the bore hole were ammonium persulfate, an oxidizing agent often found in hair conditioners and ethylene glycol, found in everything from diaper-rash ointment to antifreeze to glass cleaner.

    Most of the chemicals were of such quantities their contents could fit in a keg with room to spare. Others could fill a typical bathtub.

    Others, such as a carbohydrate polymer, at more than 5,300 gallons, and hydrochloric acid — found in most bathroom cleaners — at nearly 5,000 gallons, were the most-used additives in the Carroll County well.

    The polymer, or gel, is used to thicken the water, as in thickening a milkshake, so that it will carry the sand. The sand is a proppant to keep formations open.

    The HCL — enough to fill 500 average bathtubs — is used on the front end of the fracturing treatment to create an open path from the well bore to underground formation.

    Hydrochloric acid, also known as hydrogen chloride or muriatic acid, is corrosive to skin and the “irritation … to mucous is so severe that workers evacuate from the work place shortly after detecting its odor,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

    Chesapeake also used 22 gallons of methanol — an extremely toxic, odorous liquid — which, if consumed in even the tiniest portions, can be deadly to humans."

     

     
    Buckeye Forest Council
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Since we brought up the point of credible information I would like to share a report below. I suggest looking at scientific research papers and also who they are funded by. 

    There are major differences in the variety of chemicals used between conventional gas drilling and unconventional high volume hydraulic fracturing. The types and amounts of chemicals used should not be downplayed. 

    http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Karl I don't understand this point:

    >>>Drillers don't use 2-to-8 million gallons of fluid each time they frack a well. In the Utica Shale, a well may be fracked 10 times initially, 200-300 feet apart.>>>

    Are you talking about different wells on a single well pad (there can be as many as 8 wells, I understand) adding up to 8 million gallons for the initial frack phase? Would the bottom line be that initiating a single well pad site may mean as much 8 million gallons of frack fluid, and then if those are refreshed months or years later, then that would be additional?

     

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Darrel,

    I mean one well, in which a horizontal lateral pipe could extend a mile, could use 2 to 8 million gallons to frack as many as 10 times initially.

    A single lateral is fracked every 200-300 feet, where the pipe has been punctured. The well is fracked at the furthest point, plugged off, fracked again, plugged off, and so on. When the well has been sufficiently fracked, the company will drill out the plugs and the extraction can begin.

    Most volumes you see are relative to one well fracked numerous times (initially).

     

     
    darrel wright
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thanks Karl. The fracking explanations I have seen don't really explain that adequately, they treat it like the whole pipe gets fracked at once.

     
    Jan Dregalla
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thank you for stating my concerns in a very efficient, thorough and sensible way. I'm a landowner, and someone concerned with environmental and health issues.  I live in NE Ohio and have friends and family affected by fracking.  I glad to see this forum take place.  

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Thank you Jan.  One reason I agreed to take part in this conversation is because I am called almost every day from someone in Ohio or other parts of the U.S. who is impacted by fracking.  They either have signed a lease and can't believe what is happening to their property or they live next door to someone that has signed a lease and are concerned about their well water and impact on their health or they complain about the impacts that fracking is having on the overall community.

    Some of the callers were very excited to have the natural gas industry come to their community thinking this was going to reenergize their economy until they realized the impact it was going to have on their roads, bridges and air quality.

    The future of our energy supply is complicated, but one thing I'm sure of, is if Ohio continues to only focus on the short-term gains from fracking and leaves out all the externalized costs, we will see this rush to drill as a wrong direction for our state.

    In conversations below this post, John Mitterholzer does an excellent job pointing out some future issues with fracking if we only take into consideration short-term gains.

    Can you share with us some of your friends and families experiences with fracking?

     
    Wes McCann
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thanks Stephanie. The property we live on (under a land lease to own contract), in Perry County, is between 50 and 65 acres (of 1960' strip mine) reclamation land. We will know for sure once the Lesee starts exploration. The Deed holders signed a lease for natural gas exploration and production (of 5 years in length), AFTER we moved in.I have no idea how to even express my horror, and revulsion at this whole phenomenon. Even if there is no water/soil/air contamination, the scenery is ruined forever. They claim they will return the property to 'near original' appearance, but can they make the wild turkey, beaver, and whitetail come again? I think not.

    No one can deny that this is intrusive industry, extremely disruptive at best, completely devastating at worst. The proof is in the satellite images of places like Dimmock, PA, and Tatum, TX, just to name two. They look like warzones to my eyes. In my little corner of gasland (and it is already), the last thing we need is to be run over again by energy barons.

    Someone convince me I'm mistaken here.

    Thanks for your time.

     

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Stef, thanks for laying out the problems, issues and the directionless legislative and executive branch of our government.  More discussion and more involvement is a necessary ingredient to make this work for ALL Ohioan's and not just a few.

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Thanks Bob.  I appreciate your leadership on this issue and can only imagine how many calls you must get from constituents about this issue with all the earthquakes that have hit your region.

    I know its been tough, but please keep up the pressure to help remind people that we do have to take human health and the environment into account when moving forward with this gas rush.

    Please let us know how we can help get your bills heard in committee.

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    There are concerns regarding the environment, economy and regulations, but the biggest concern is weeding through the excessive amount of disinformation, which comes from both sides of the argument.

    The industry remains less than transparent at times and often uses jargon unrelatable to the average citizen. Extremists blur the line between fact and fiction and often refuse to acknowledge the good with the bad.

    Sort of like the economic studies -- 20,000 to 200,000 industry-related jobs in the next handful of years -- the true answer to the impact of large-scale exploration likely lies somewhere in between.

    Just know this: Ohio is not alone. I just got back from Fort Worth, Texas, home to the Barnett Shale, a large natural-gas reserve. There are residents in North Central Texas, that, despite years of enhanced drilling activity, remain skeptical. There are those who think the process could have moved at a faster pace. But nearly all residents went through a learning curve and are much better informed today than when drilling started years ago.

     
    Kari Matsko
    on Mar 19, 2012
    Great point Karl. I too visited Ft Worth, TX and surrounding areas when residential drilling began in OH in 2004. We collaborated since that time on how to improve OH oil and gas law. As you know after visting, TX cities have home rule/local control and have dictated drill sites must be anywhere from 600ft to 1000ft from residences. US energy statistics state that TX and OK, like OH, are in the top 4 states with highest numbers of oil & gas wells. OK and TX both have local control. OK and TX provide 9% and 30% respectively to total US gas production while OH provides .5% and lost local control in 2004. That being said, what are the panels thoughts on restoration of local control via statute to best serve not only health & safety but also the industry and economy (example, OK has numerous local jobs for local well inspectors & related jobs due to regulation at the local level)? Thanks 
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I talked to a gentlemen in Fort Worth (where they have urban drilling and can drill essentially anywhere).

    He said he wishes there was NO local control and that oil and gas should be regulated strictly at a federal level.

    I found it intriguing because so many in Ohio are clamoring for local control, yet here is an individual who said it only made things worse.

    Here's something else to chew on: very few people at the local level have the knowledge of oil and gas to make the proper decisions. At the same time, those at the state and federal level have a limited knowledge of municipalities.

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I find it interesting that the issue of "local control" seems to have no idealogical basis.  The same people arguing for local control are also arguing for federal control.  And while the oil and gas business lobbies against local control, it also lobbies against federal control.  

     
    Caitlin Johnson
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Hi Karl, 

    Could you explain why the man in Forth Worth said local control made things worse? It seems like local zoning laws have been used in NY to slow the process down. If that's what you want to see happen, more local control seems like a good thing. However, when it comes to making proper safety regulations about well casing, for example, I can see why it would make more sense to have the state regulate it. Thanks!

    -Caitlin

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Caitlin,

    The gentleman believed those at the city level (councilmen, etc.) were not as educated in the subject, and also presented the possibility of corruption.

    Fort Worth became the first city in the area to allow drilling anywhere -- they have well pads in high-traffic urban areas -- and that ruling came down at the local level.

    It's a completely different scenario in Ohio, where local governments can do nothing, but still an interesting perspective from someone against expansive drilling who lived through locally-controlled ordinances.

    There are pluses and minuses to federal, state and local control, but judging by those in our community, the only viable option is local regulation.

    The answer, like the answer to most questions regarding this topic, is somewhere in the middle.

     

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    At a city council meeting yesterday it was obvious that they intend to sign over city property for drilling because they are over a million dollars in debt with no promising revenue sources to make up for it, other than the lease.  In my township, several trustees have large tracts of land and stand to make big bucks from drilling - our concerns are of no interest to them - they only see dollar signs.  They also claimed that due to the structure of the township, they couldn't stop the drilling even if they wanted to.  YES we need federal control, because ODNR has not been protecting our interests for years - they just permitted a fracking well to be drilled nearly on top of an unmitigated Superfund landfill - and these local governing bodies are too desperate for cash. 

     
    LeAnn Ramirez
    on Mar 21, 2012

    Sorry Heidi...

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I think local control is vital.  Look what's happening in New York where communities are able to vote on whether they want fracking in their communities.  Here's an article about the Town of Dryden and an article about the Town of Middlefield in New York state.

     
    Dan Moulthrop
    on Mar 19, 2012

    I wonder, then, Stefanie, if a hybrid solution might allow home-rule municipalities to opt out and establish a local moratorium, but if they're going ahead with shale exploration, then it would be regulated and managed at the state level with local "advise and consent." 

     
    Karl Henkel
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Stefanie,

    How do you define "local control?"

    Letting council decide or an up-and-down vote among residents?

     
    Stefanie Penn Spear
    on Mar 19, 2012

    The two communities I referenced were votes by council.  There are many other communities in New York that are working to ban fracking within their boarders.

    Here's a piece about the Buffalo Common Council passing a resolution.

    Here's a piece about Albany Common Council and how it's reintroducing a fracking ban.

    I think that it could go to a vote to the residents or be something a council can decide since they are suppose to be representing their constituents.

    Either way, I think communities should have a right to allow or ban fracking.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    What environmental extremists are you referring to? If you're going to make a marginalizing claim like that, you should be defining who and who isn't in the path of your artillery. Sierra Club? Township officials who want to ban drilling in their township? Sportsmen who don't want drilling and open air frack water containment where they hunt deer and waterfowl? Are impacted residents with high TDS in their water environmental extremists? In other words, you sound like you have no idea who you're talking about, you just don't like what facts are coming out about drilling and you feel it necessary to taunt concerned citizens with insults.

     
    John Mitterholzer
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Philanthropy tries to look at important issues holistically.  It is my hope that we can move beyond sound bites and have an honest discussion about shale gas.  While there can be no doubt that shale gas will have an economic impact on our state, it is important that the full impact of shale gas production be discussed in a meaningful way.  Yes, there are positive economic benefits but there are also significant negative impacts on public health, human service delivery, civic infrastructure, water and air quality, natural resources and agriculture.  I think it is important that we have a civic  discourse about shale gas that looks at all of its impacts, both economic and otherwise, and seeks to find ways that can mitigate the negative effects of fracking in order to maximize the positive economic benefits.  It is equally important to look at all of the externalities of the economics of shale gas production.  How much will the impacts to agriculture, public health, natural resources, water and air quality and other sectors truly cost the state both short term and long term?  Only then can we determine the correct size and scale of shale gas production in Ohio that allows the state to prosper economically while not forfeiting our current quality of life.

     

     
    Nicole Stempak
    on Mar 22, 2012

    Hi John, 

    I am one of The News Outlet reporters who went to Fort Worth and Denton last week. One of the things that struck me as I was talking to residents was the deep impact the shale industry has had on their daily lives. For the car salesman selling cars to oil and gas comapnies and their employees, the impact could be measured in commission. For two local YMCAs, it meant receiving grants from Chesapeaked Energy to refurbish basketball and tennis courts in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods so children would have a place to safely play. (Something those children might never realize.)

    Some of the issues you're asking about are covered in this report commissioned by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, but I suspect we might not know the full effects of the shale gas production in Ohio until many years in the future. I look forward to the opporutnity to discuss this further with you.

    Best,

    Nicole

     
    Andrew Thomas
    on Mar 19, 2012

    The stakeholders for the CSU Energy Policy Center are principally the citizens of Northeast Ohio.      My biggest concern for this stakeholder group is that we do not squander this resource with shortsighted policies.   We have a duty to manage this resource properly, and to not just ignore the environmental and geopolitical problems that loom in the not so distance future if we don’t change the way we generate and consume energy.   This resource helps buy us some time and generates some wealth to enable us to make those changes.   But we need to resist the temptation to resort to business as usual, or we will find ourselves right back where we were a few years ago -- with no more chances to fix the problems.

     
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    As I (and the other residents I'm in touch with who live in the eastern part of Ohio) have become more and more educated about the entire process, we have become increasing concerned with the massive industrialization involved.  My husband and I spent a day in Bradford County PA, where something like 700 wells have been drilled in the last 3 years.  It is no longer a place where people who love a rural life style would want to live.  On two lane highways, trucks going by every 2-5 minutes, 24/7/365 for the last 3 years.  With the permits and leases still out, the pipelines, compressor stations, etc. still to be built, it is likely to go on for another 10 years or more.    Deborah Rogers (financial analyst) talks about how we will have to be on a "drilling treadmill" because the production level of each well drops so dramatically in the first five years.

     
    Concerned Citizens Ohio
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry I didn't identify myself.  I didn't realize that when I signed up, my personal name wouldn't appear.   My name is Gwen Fischer.  I'm a retired Professor of Psychology from Hiram College who has been spending the year and a half researching and studying shale gas drilling.  I signed up as Concerned Citizens Ohio because I think I do speak for the loose "organization" of networked residents who have become increasing concerned about our inability to decide whether we want to live in an area in which this sort of drilling is likely to go on for years and years----especially after reading reports from several states where lots of people have leased without being told the cumulative community impacts on health and living.

     
    Alexander Lotorto
    on Mar 19, 2012

    Here's a list of OHSA reported casualties related to oil and gas exploration: http://www.owsstopfracking.org/2011/12/osha-reported-casualties.html

    If you advocate for drilling, are you willing to see a high school buddy, a brother, a father, or an uncle lose his life on a rig? Is that the kind of job you want for your loved ones? Are these the kinds of companies you want to be employing Ohioans?

     
    Bob Hagan
    on Mar 20, 2012

    Dan we here in Ytown have many concerns, but obviously or recent concern is the lack of information regarding injection well.  We have had no earthquakes in the City of Ytown, occording to the ODNR website until the openeing of the injection well in our town. Too many questions left unanswered, too many letters to the Ohio Leaders left unread, and an ODNR that denied the obvious conclusion that injection wells do cause earthquakes.  

    That of course is just the start of what we fear here in the Valley.

     
    Ary Bastos
    on Mar 20, 2012

     

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    Hydraulic Fracturing    Operational Models

    ( The new model is a solution )

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    Hydraulic Fracturing is a technical issue that must be regulated "urgent" by the ANP, based on a new operating model, defining the operational procedures for the oil and service companies.

    With the word: ANP, ANA, IBAMA, INEMA, SEMA, MCTI, MME, MMA, HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES, SENATE FEDERAL and the PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE.

    Regards,

    Ary Bastos

     

     
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