The Social Costs of Fracking | Food & Water Watch

The Social Costs of Fracking | Food & Water Watch.

September 24th, 2013

The Social Costs of Fracking

Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom has brought thousands of new gas wells, a number of transient workers and a host of social problems. Food & Water Watch found that traffic accidents, civic disturbances and public health problems in rural Pennsylvania counties have increased since the shale rush began in 2005, diminishing the quality of life for residents of once-bucolic communities.social costs of fracking cover

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Economic downturns like the Great Recession are often associated with negative outcomes, but these social and public health costs increased more in rural counties with the new shale gas wells than in rural counties without shale gas drilling. These negative social impacts were especially pronounced in the counties with the highest density of shale gas wells.

The oil and gas industry has surged over the past decade by employing new techniques and technologies that combine horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to extract gas from shale and other underground rock formations. Fracking injects large quantities of water, sand and toxic chemicals under high pressure to release gas tightly held in rock layers. Fracking has expanded rapidly in areas across the country, but Pennsylvania has been at the epicenter of the nation’s fracking boom, with nearly 5,000 shale gas wells drilled between 2005 and 2011.

The fracking boom has brought heavy trucks crowding rural roads and out-of-state workers flooding small towns, often overwhelming local housing, police and public health capacities. The influx of transient workers with disposable income and little to do in their off hours is a recipe for trouble in small-town America, where alcohol-related crimes, traffic accidents, emergency room visits and sexually transmitted infection have all been on the rise.

Much of the national discussion about fracking has focused on the obvious environmental risks, while the social costs of fracking have been largely ignored. This study is the first detailed, long-term analysis of the social costs of fracking borne by rural Pennsylvania communities.

North Dakota Oil Boom Brings Blight With Growth as Costs Soar – Bloomberg

North Dakota Oil Boom Brings Blight With Growth as Costs Soar – Bloomberg.

Drilling and the DEC: Responding to Economic Impacts

*Drilling and the DEC: Responding to Economic Impacts*
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*Saturday, October 15, 2011** Ithaca, NY*
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About 300 people came to hear grassroots activists, experts, and local officials concerned about protecting our local agriculture and tourism economies, community character, roads and infrastructure The presenters offered information on the revised Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).****Speakers addressed the portion of proposed drilling guidelines that intends to mitigate adverse social and economic impacts such as truck traffic, threats to food crops, and demand on local services. The forum was moderated by Martha Robertson, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. Panelists included Ed Marx, Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning, who addressed the impacts of drilling on local communities. Jannette Barth, Ph.D., Economist, Pepacton Institute, who addressed the flaws in the new socioeconomic impact study. Barbara Lifton, NY State Assemblywoman for Tompkins and Cortland Counties, who addressed what she and other legislators are doing about the shale gas impacts. James (Chip) Northrup, Partner and investor in oil and gas projects, served on Governor of Texas’ Energy Advisory Council, who addressed how to make responses to the DEC. *
*Papers available at http://tinyurl.com/ithaca-sgeis*
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*Video Shot By Cris McConkey available at **http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6FD26CFB7DAB7D2D*
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*Edward Marx <http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Marx%20Slides%2010-15-11.pdf>
/AICP, Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning and Community Sustainability. His presentation focused on cumulative impacts (and the lack of adequate treatment of them in the revised draft SGEIS) and impacts of gas drilling on local governments./*

*Jannette Barth <http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Barth%20Slides%2010-15-11.pdf

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/Economist with Pepacton Institute, an economic research and consulting firm. She has worked in the fields of economic analysis and econometric modeling and forecasting for over 35 years. Her presentation discussed what is missing and what is wrong in the economic analysis included in the socio-economic impact section of the revised draft SGEIS./*

*Barbara Lifton <http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Lifton%20Slides%2010-15-11.pdf>
/NY State Assemblywoman for the 125th District. Ms. Lifton drafted and is sponsor of Assembly Bill 3245 that clarifies that municipal governments have authority to control whether and where resource extraction can take place in their jurisdictions. Ms. Lifton discussed differences between the Assembly bill and the Senate bill drafted by Sen. Seward and the prospects for legislative action in the next session (in the current year the State Senate has refused to take up any gas drilling bills)./*

*James (Chip) Northrup <http://www.tcgasmap.org/media/Northrup%20Slides%2010-15-11.pdf>
/Former planning manager at Atlantic Richfield and an independent oil and gas investor for over 30 years; Mr. Northrup has served on the Governor of Texas’ Energy Advisory Council. His presentation debunked various myths: that New York’s regulations are stronger than in any other state, that the SGEIS is scientifically based (its politically based), and the overestimates of gas resources and economic impacts. Includes instructions on how to comment on the SGEIS and contains links to information and templates that make commenting easier.
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http://globalcouFractured Communities, Fractured Lives.Final Report: Grant from Mellon Foundation/Dickinson College including maps and photo-essays now available here! | Fractured Communities, Fractured Lives

Final Report: Grant from Mellon Foundation/Dickinson College including maps and photo-essays now available here! | Fractured Communities, Fractured Lives.

dSGEIS economic/social section well build-out scenario

Here are some figures you may want to use as you comment on the
revised dSGEIS, testify at hearings, speak to your neighbors, etc.

The “average” (i.e. not low and not high) development scenario
explored in the socioeconomic section of the revised dSGEIS for Region
A (Broome, Chemung, & Tioga Counties) assumes that over the course of
30 years, 21,067 (18,923 horizontal wells and 2,144 vertical wells)
would be drilled in Region A.

This would mean that an average of 702 gas wells would be added to the
region each year, for 30 years. (In reality, some years would see
fewer wells than 702 added, some would see more.)

If 21,067 wells were drilled in Region A, the final well density would
be about 13 wells per square mile. That’s about one gas well for every
16 current residents of Region A. (References & calculations shown
below.)

On p. 4-6 of the socioeconomic section of the rdSGEIS, there is a
chart (Table 4-2) showing the major development scenario assumptions
for each representative region. Region A includes Broome, Tioga, and
Chemung Counties and is expected to be the most heavily drilled region
in the state. (See p. 4-5 of the rdSGEIS for discussion of drilling in
the various regions.)According to Table 4-2, in an “average” (i.e. not low and not high)
drilling scenario, over the course of 30 years, 21,067 (18,923
horizontal wells & 2,144 vertical wells) gas wells would be drilled in
Region A.I obtained the following figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The
population figures are from the 2010 census; the land area figures are
from the 2000 census. (See http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36000.html)Broome County:  population  200,600;  area  706.82 square milesTioga County:  population 51,125; area 518.69 square miles

Chemung County: population 88,830; area 408.17 square miles

Adding those up, we have, for the three-county region:  population
340,555; area 1633.68 square miles

Using the above three-county population and land area figures and
assuming the “average” development level given in Table 4-2 as 21,067
wells, it turns out that in 30 years, the three-county area would have
about 12.9 gas wells per square mile. That’s one gas well for every
16.17 current residents of the region. Since some areas (e.g. urban
cores) probably would not be drilled, an even higher well density in
the drilled areas would be needed to reach the estimated
_____________________

The 81,000-well figure is in the same general ballpark as the “high”
development model in the rdSGEIS, which assumes 62,781 shale gas wells
statewide with 31,395 of those wells being in Region A (the counties
of Broome, Chemung, & Tioga). Chances seem fairly certain that Region
A will see a higher density of wells than most regions. The revised
rdSGEIS assumes that the Broome/Chemung/Tioga area will be the
location of about half the shale gas wells in the state, so if the
81,000-well figure is correct, perhaps our area will see something
like 40,000 wells (i.e. about twice the density I discussed in my
original post in this thread).While no one knows for certain how many wells there will be, it’s
important to communicate the ballpark figures to the public. I think
the number of wells being contemplated–whether it’s 20,000 wells in
the three-county area or 30,000 or 40,000–is almost certainly far
higher than what most people living in those counties are
envisioning.Large numbers are difficult to visualize, so I think it is critical to
state these numbers in ways that will allow us all to visualize the
impact. As I said above, using the DEC’s own “average” development
scenario, we would end up with a number of wells equivalent to having
about 13 wells per square mile in every single square mile of Broome,
Chemung, & Tioga Counties. Since there will almost certainly be some
parts of the three-county area that will not be drilled (e.g. urban
cores), the areas that are drilled would have to end up with a higher
density than 13 wells per square mile in order to reach the 21,067
well figure. Another way to say it is that there would be about one
gas well for every 16 current residents (men, women, & children) of
the three counties. Even with multiple wells clustered on each pad,
that is obviously an enormous level of industrialization, particularly
when one considers the access roads, pipelines, compressor stations,
truck traffic, noise, etc that will accompany the wells. (I am
wondering, as I type this, just how much more prone to flooding our
area will be when a lot of the trees have been cut to make way for
well pads, roads, and pipelines. That’s what we all need–more
flooding, right?)

The high profits being projected are based on drilling a huge number
of wells with an accompanying high degree of industrialization (i.e.
pipelines, access roads, compressors, etc). So when people hear how
much money there is to be made, they need to understand that in order
to get the money wells will have to be drilled at a tremendous rate.
Again, we’re talking, ballpark, 13 wells per square mile, one gas well
for every 16 residents. The wells would be constructed over 30 years,
with an average of 700 wells drilled each year in the Broome/Chemung/
Tioga area. That’s 700 new chances for industrial accidents, every
year, year after year, for 30 years, and if they hope to reach that
21,067-well number, they will not just be drilling in remote areas.

Remember: 13 wells per square mile, one well for every 16 residents–
and that’s the DEC’s “average” development scenario, NOT the high-
development scenario. How many people would want to live with that? We
need to get the word out–a lot of people probably have no idea what
these numbers are.

——————–

The 81,000-well figure is in the same general ballpark as the “high”
development model in the rdSGEIS, which assumes 62,781 shale gas wells
statewide with 31,395 of those wells being in Region A (the counties
of Broome, Chemung, & Tioga). Chances seem fairly certain that Region
A will see a higher density of wells than most regions. The revised
rdSGEIS assumes that the Broome/Chemung/Tioga area will be the
location of about half the shale gas wells in the state, so if the
81,000-well figure is correct, perhaps our area will see something
like 40,000 wells (i.e. about twice the density I discussed in my
original post in this thread).

While no one knows for certain how many wells there will be, it’s
important to communicate the ballpark figures to the public. I think
the number of wells being contemplated–whether it’s 20,000 wells in
the three-county area or 30,000 or 40,000–is almost certainly far
higher than what most people living in those counties are
envisioning.

Large numbers are difficult to visualize, so I think it is critical to
state these numbers in ways that will allow us all to visualize the
impact. As I said above, using the DEC’s own “average” development
scenario, we would end up with a number of wells equivalent to having
about 13 wells per square mile in every single square mile of Broome,
Chemung, & Tioga Counties. Since there will almost certainly be some
parts of the three-county area that will not be drilled (e.g. urban
cores), the areas that are drilled would have to end up with a higher
density than 13 wells per square mile in order to reach the 21,067
well figure. Another way to say it is that there would be about one
gas well for every 16 current residents (men, women, & children) of
the three counties. Even with multiple wells clustered on each pad,
that is obviously an enormous level of industrialization, particularly
when one considers the access roads, pipelines, compressor stations,
truck traffic, noise, etc that will accompany the wells. (I am
wondering, as I type this, just how much more prone to flooding our
area will be when a lot of the trees have been cut to make way for
well pads, roads, and pipelines. That’s what we all need–more
flooding, right?)

The high profits being projected are based on drilling a huge number
of wells with an accompanying high degree of industrialization (i.e.
pipelines, access roads, compressors, etc). So when people hear how
much money there is to be made, they need to understand that in order
to get the money wells will have to be drilled at a tremendous rate.
Again, we’re talking, ballpark, 13 wells per square mile, one gas well
for every 16 residents. The wells would be constructed over 30 years,
with an average of 700 wells drilled each year in the Broome/Chemung/
Tioga area. That’s 700 new chances for industrial accidents, every
year, year after year, for 30 years, and if they hope to reach that
21,067-well number, they will not just be drilling in remote areas.

Remember: 13 wells per square mile, one well for every 16 residents–
and that’s the DEC’s “average” development scenario, NOT the high-
development scenario. How many people would want to live with that? We
need to get the word out–a lot of people probably have no idea what
these numbers are.

SGEIS Community Impacts

SGEIS Community Impacts.