Pacific Institute: Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction

Pacific Institute: Reports.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction

 

fracking_cover_small.jpgHydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has generated growing controversy in the past few years. New research from the Pacific Institute finds the real issues around its impacts on water are shared by stakeholders from government to industry to environmental groups – and point to the need for better and more transparent information in order to clearly assess the key water-related risks and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.

Much of the public attention on hydraulic fracturing has centered on the use of chemicals in the fracturing fluids and the risk of groundwater contamination. But the new study finds that while chemical disclosure can be useful for tracking contamination, risks associated with fracking chemicals are not the only issues that must be addressed. The massive water requirements for fracking and the potential conflicts with other water needs, including for agriculture and for ecosystems, pose major challenges. Methane contamination of drinking water wells is also a concern according to some field studies, as are the serious challenges associated with storing, transporting, treating, and disposing of wastewater.

The report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction is a detailed assessment and synthesis of existing research on fracking as well as the results of interviews with representatives from state and federal agencies, industry, academia, environmental groups, and community-based organizations from across the United States. Interviewees identified a broad set of social, economic, and environmental concerns, foremost among which are impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the availability and quality of water resources.

“Despite the diversity of viewpoints among the stakeholders interviewed, there was surprising agreement about the range of concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing. Among the most commonly cited were concerns about spills and leaks, wastewater management, and water withdrawals,” said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute Water Program. “In addition to concerns about impacts on water resources, social and economic concerns were identified as well, such as worker health and safety and community impacts associated with rapidly industrializing rural environments.”

Hydraulic fracturing refers to the process by which fluid is injected into wells under high pressure to create cracks and fissures in rock formations that improve the production of these wells. Energy analysts, including the Energy Information Administration (EIA), project that the United States will become increasingly reliant on natural gas, with production projected to increase by nearly 30% over the next 25 years.

The growth in natural gas production is driven by a dramatic increase in domestic shale gas production, and by 2021, the United States is projected to be a net exporter of natural gas ( U.S. EIA 2012). The rapid development of unconventional natural gas resources – such as shale – has been largely facilitated through the use of directional (horizontal) drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Hailed by some as a game-changer that promises increased energy independence, job creation, and lower energy prices, fracking has led others to call for a temporary moratorium or a complete ban due to concern over potential environmental, social, and public health impacts. The research finds that the lack of credible and comprehensive data and information is a major impediment to a robust analysis of the real concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing.

“Much of what has been written about the interaction of hydraulic fracturing and water resources is either industry or advocacy reports that have not been peer-reviewed, and the discourse around the issue to date has been marked by opinion and obfuscation,” said Cooley. “More and better research is needed to clearly assess the key water-related risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.”

Based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute is a nonpartisan research institute that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Through interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders, the Institute produces solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity – in the West, nationally, and internationally. www.pacinst.org.

Download the full report.
Download the Executive Summary.
Download the press release.

Deep concern: Environmentalists question groundwater risks » Local News » The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Deep concern: Environmentalists question groundwater risks » Local News » The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA.

Are injection wells an issue in NY as well? 

Sorta under the radar here as well –
from DEC site – Brine Disposal Well Summary
first 3 are the active disposal wells, others for storage
– click on link,  then click on searchable database and hit view map for location-
I am in process today of drafting inquiry letter for reports mandated by EPA – got very vague answers last year from Linda Collart  on Quill disposal well 1800′ deep 3/4 mile from Cayuga Lake –
 “No “drilling waste” taken, migration impossible, pressure is very low, biggest problem is truck traffic.”
Yet there are two large tanks labeled PRODUCED WATER/BRINE  near that well – wouldn’t that be drilling waste?
I think one of the biggest problems is the fuzzy words thrown around by agencies – vague by design – won’t find a lot of these in glossaries of EPA nor DEC –
Brine
Formation water – naturally occurring but ‘brine’ used interchangably –
Salt  Water (TX RR commission – really.   http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/about/faqs/saltwaterwells.php
Waste Water
Frack Waste
Drilling Waste
Flowback Fluid
NG liquids
Produced Water – GAO report from Jan. 2012 –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587522.pdf
synonyms all?    keep coming back to that conclusion –
 Quill disposal well town of Cayuga –
Just what and how much is going down there?
Will more Queenston wells be flipped for disposal?  There are scores  dotting Cayuga County.  Is there a public notification process for this?
Agencies make a big deal of inspections for casing standards and integrity of disposal wells – just how do construction standards of these wells really matter?  the concrete and steel WILL eventually fail.  And when the fluids are being injected into a porous layer?  nothing is containing them but the geology…(faults? fractures?  abandoned wells? )   hard to figure how these make sense at a mere 640′, 1080′  and 1800  feet deep.
If anyone knows anything please share.  Will post my query to the agencies when I finish later.  I’ve got a lot of questions.
MaryM
YouTube – Videos from this email

‘Fracking’ Explained – YouTube

‘Fracking’ Explained – YouTube.

Ohio Tries to Escape Fate as a Dumping Ground for Fracking Fluid

Ohio Tries to Escape Fate as a Dumping Ground for Fracking Fluid.

Living on Earth: Disposal of Fracking Wastewater Polluting PA Rivers

Living on Earth: Disposal of Fracking Wastewater Polluting PA Rivers.

Youngstown Injection Well Stays Shut After Earthquake – NYTimes.com

Youngstown Injection Well Stays Shut After Earthquake – NYTimes.com.

FrCuomo-backed plan would dump “treated” frack water in Lake Ontario by James Hufnagel

FrackWater.

Cuomo-backed plan would dump “treated” frack water in Lake Ontario

by James Hufnagel

  Sierra Atlantic    Volume 38, Fall 2011

Brine use on wintry roads considered – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Brine use on wintry roads considered – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Youngstown News, Did brine well trigger 6 Mahoning Valley earthquakes?

Youngstown News, Did brine well trigger 6 Mahoning Valley earthquakes?.

10/20/2011: EPA Announces Schedule to Develop Natural Gas Wastewater Standards/Announcement is part of administration’s priority to ensure natural gas development continues safely and responsibly

10/20/2011: EPA Announces Schedule to Develop Natural Gas Wastewater Standards/Announcement is part of administration’s priority to ensure natural gas development continues safely and responsibly.