Hydro-Fracking - Sustainable Warwick

A Primer
Hydro-fracking underlying shale rock to release trapped natural gas has recently become a
major issue in New York and Pennsylvania, where large areas may be fracked. While the fracking
process has been used for other purposes, hydro-fracking of shale rock to produce
unconventional gas is substantially more destructive of land and water than previous fracking. It
is a new industrial technology, not just a minor change from the fracking of the past 60 years.
According to Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, the first 1000 gas wells unconventionally
developed will use more frack fluid, and produce more waste, than all 50,000 wells ever drilled in
New York State. This is because of the high volume of fluid used, because of multiple wells
associated with each well pad, because of the high density of well pads, and because each well
may be fracked multiple times. Multiple wells increase the risk that the cement seals for each
well might be damaged by drilling or repeatedly fracking the others. And over time, cement
shrinks and cracks will affect well integrity. In addition, about 7% of newly completed wells fail
immediately. Data on cumulative impacts from this process have not been developed. Other
likely impacts include: irreversibly contaminating water supplies, industrialization of residential
areas, fragmenting forest and farmland, degrading air quality, with convoys of tanker trucks
affecting rural roads and communities, tourism, real estate values and wildlife. Fracking itself and
injecting fracking wastes into injection wells can also trigger earthquakes.
This slide show is a quick way to quickly get up to speed and to visualize the issues involved.
While the natural gas market has historically been volatile, currently prices and demand are
relatively low. There is no need to rush the regulatory framework and laws for fracking in New
York State.
What Is Hydro-Fracking?
• Fracturing rock layers with a pressurized
fluid to release petroleum, natural gas, or coal
seam gas
• This is a new method of fracking which
includes horizontal drilling, high volume water
injection, dense well pad clustering multiple
wells per pad as well as the more typical
vertical drilling
• Fracking fluids include 98-99% water, sand
to hold the fractures open, and many chemical
additives (many toxic) for a variety of purposes
• Wells are typically drilled about 500 ft
vertically and 4500 ft horizontally in
Pennsylvania, but can go down much deeper
Source: CCE, citizenscampaign.org See www.citizenscampaign.org/PDFs/cce_hvhf_wp_final.pdf
A More Detailed Look
Source: ProPublica
Marcellus Shale Region in NYS
Green area is the Marcellus shale
• Black shale with
trapped natural gas
underlies much of NYS
and Pennsylvania.
• There are other shale
layers below the
Marcellus shale (ie.,
Utica shale)
Source: CCE
Estimates vary, but there is considerable gas locked up in the shale formations
Utica Shale
Extension of Utica Shale Play into Orange County Indicated by Red
EIA Map of Shale Oil/Gas Locations
Well Pad in Pennsylvania
Source: whyfiles.org/2011/fracking-fracas
Environmental Concerns
Source: CCE
• Water use
• Air pollution
• Water pollution
• Mishandling of wastes
• Human health effects
• Migration of gases to
• Escaped methane
• Increased ozone pollution
Fresh Water Use
• Fracking can require up
to 5 milliongallons of
water. Containers in the
photo are water
Source: CCE
Chemical Additives – 12 Classes
Clay stabilizer
Corrosion inhibitor
Cross linker
Friction reducer
Gelling agent
Iron control
Scale inhibitor
Sample Additives
Source: CCE
Some of the additives are toxic, mutagenic or carcinogenic
Water Pollution
9 to 40% of the injected fluid returns as
Source: CCE
It is stored in lagoons and is ultimately
disposed of in sewage plants and large bodies
of water, or injected into deep
wells. Some can be recycled into more fracking
Methane in Water
Numerous studies have
documented serious
problems associated with
fracking, including:
• Clark, Wyoming – 8
million cubic feet of
methane escaped,
• Dimock, PA – 13 water
wells contaminated with
Source: CCE
Production Brine
Source CCE
As the well is pumped,
production brine flows to
the surface, and must be
collected and disposed of.
It can be 5x saltier than
sea water. It also contains
substantial radioactivity,
and toxic metals from the
earth. It is typically stored
in lagoons and then must
be disposed of.
Production brine also has
substantial radioactivity,
consisting of uranium and
radium 226. It is many
hundreds of times more
radioactive than is allowed
by the EPA under the Safe
Drinking Water Act.
Source: CCE
Health Impacts of Radium
Source: CCE
Impacts on Climate
• Methane is a strong greenhouse gas with 20-103x
the impact of CO2 (Depends on the time scale you
• Studies indicate that 3.6-7.9% of the methane
extracted from hydro-fracking will leak into the
atmosphere over the lifetime of the well
• Using hydro-fracked gas (shale gas) is worse for the
environment than using coal or oil
• While natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, given
all the associated environmental degradation and
climate impacts, it’s hard to call fracked natural gas
Source: CCE
• 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydro- fracking from all Federal
oversight (Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act,
Superfund law)
• There are few if any scientific studies that have been completed on
environmental impacts
• States are ill-prepared to provide proper monitoring and regulation
• Regulatory framework is fragmented and incomplete
• Currently in NYS, there are two processes occurring, a review of the
impacts of fracking through the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental
Impact Statement (dSGEIS) and draft regulations based upon the same
review. (see www.CleanWaterNotDirtyDrilling.org for an update on this
process) . The state has recently announced that it will do its own health
study through the NYS Department of Health.
Source: CCE
Multi-Well Pads Have Greater Impact
Hydro-Fracked Landscape
Source: CCE
Undisturbed Landscape
Up to 20 well sites are allowed for each pad.
Landscape at Well Sites
Well pads, Dish, TX
Well pads, Jonah, WY
Photos: skytruth.org, DamascasCitizens.org
Additional Facts
• In 2005, the National Energy Act exempted hydraulic fracking from all
Federal regulation (Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund
• Modern large-scale hydro-fracking began in Montana in the 1990’s. Before
then very few wells were fracked and they were small ones using little
• Recent concerns include the possible triggering of earthquakes by the
fracking process (which could allow greater movement of toxic fluids and
methane) See whyfiles reference and other references.
• Methane release not only dramatically increases greenhouse gases
(because of its high global warming potential) but enhances the
production of ozone at ground level which is also a greenhouse gas.
• The EPA was finally commissioned to do a detailed environmental study
which is due to be released in September 2012, but will occur later.
• The chemical contamination damage from fracking to the water supply is
likely permanent. A tradeoff of “cheap” natural gas for the permanent loss
of land, water and ecosystems is not a trade-off we would like to see.
• The damage to local residents from air pollution, water contamination,
loss of land value, impacts on the landscape, etc. is enormous. The health
effects of fracking are very real.
• There is no rush to get out the gas until all the appropriate scientific
studies are done. It’s not going anywhere.
• The economic advantages of fracking for communities are highly
exaggerated. (leasing arrangements, royalties, boom/bust cycles).
• There are other alternatives to heat our homes and produce electricity
that do not involve the serious tradeoffs of fracked natural gas. These
include: energy efficiency and energy conservation, solar heating for
houses, solar heating for hot water, wind power for electricity, solar
electricity, small-scale hydropower, geothermal, and other sources and
A Few Reasons Why Warwick Needs a Ban Now
• Imagine industrial fracking taking place in Warwick. Looking at the very
real pictures of what takes place, do you think anybody in Warwick would
want to have fracking take place next door? Or in Warwick? Or in
surrounding communities? The well pads are spaced every mile or so.
• We are uncertain about what the industrial fracking technology can do, or
might be able to do in the future, but we have Utica shale underlying
much of Warwick. We need to think about possible threats that might
occur in the future.
• Industrial fracking is totally inconsistent with Warwick’s comprehensive
plan, and threatens our farms, our tourism, our small business, and our
residential rural community. It would drastically affect property values
since banks would not issue mortgages, and insurance agencies would
cancel policies, as they are doing elsewhere.
• We have a limited time to act. Home rule allows communities to act
before state regulations go into place. Now is the time to act. A ban can
always be rescinded in the future. About 130, or 20% of the municipalities
in NYS have already acted to restrict fracking, and more are doing it every
CCE, citizenscampaign.org See www.citizenscampaign.org/PDFs/cce_hvhf_wp_final.pdf
Griswold, E., “Situation Normal All Fracked Up,” New York Times Magazine, Dec. 11, 2011,
pp.42-49, 52,60 One family’s experience in PA.
The Science of Fracking: whyfiles.org/2011/fracking-fracas
www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking - (water pollution)
rfflibrary.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/methane-and-the-greenhouse-gas-footprint-ofnatural-gas-from-shale-formations/ Paper by Howarth, R.W., Santoro, R., Ingraffea, A.,
Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations (to be
published in Climatic Science)
Hydraulic Fracturing Report - (toxic substances used in fracking)
ng%20Report%204.18.11.pdf (April 2011)
Osborn, S.G. et. al., Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well
Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing, PNAS, May 17, 2011, Vol. 108, No. 20, 8173
www.lhup.edu/rmeyers3/marcellus.htm (a detailed account of the PA experience)
www.propublica.org/series/fracking (news articles following the fracking issue)
www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/02/ohio-earthquakes-caused-by-waste-water-welldrilling-n-1180094.html (deep well injection of fracking fluids causes earthquakes)