Resources About Fracking

This page offers links to articles and other information related to fracking and New York State communities, as well as letters we have sent to Governor Cuomo and our draft municipal resolution on clean energy.

Elected Officials to Protect New York Clean Energy Resolution

Last month, Elected Officials to Protect New York released a template resolution praising renewable energy efforts in the state as viable alternatives to fracking and calling on Governor Cuomo to continue these initiatives and make our state a leader in clean, renewable energy.

The full text of our resolution is available here (in PDF format).  To date, this resolution has been customized and passed in the following municipalities:

Additionally, Tompkins County has also passed a resolution in response to the State’s Draft Energy Plan.  As EOPNY signatory and Tompkins County legislator Carol Chock notes,the plan “has become an important barometer of where New Yorkers would like to see our energy future, but the comment period is short and the “plan” doesn’t contain much except a forecast of current direction, rather than a roadmap about how to meet future energy challenges.”  Since the comment period for this plan is open until April 30, communities that have not already passed a municipal resolution may want to consider adding language responding to the plan and those that already have passed the municipal resolution might be interested in a separate energy plan resolution.

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Our Letters to Governor Cuomo & Other Officials

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New York State Updates

New York State Climate Action Planning

Department of Environmental Conservationhttp://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/80930.html

Executive Order No. 24 set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York State by 80 percent below the levels emitted in 1990 by the year 2050. The Executive Order also created the New York State Climate Action Council (CAC) with a directive to prepare a climate action plan. The climate action plan would assess how all economic sectors can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. The Plan would also identify the extent to which such actions support New York’s goals for a clean-energy economy.

Local Bans on the Use of Oil and Gas Brine on Highways, In Water Treatments, and Other Applications of Frack Waste

Owing to unknown chemical composition of the brine created as a by-product of hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas extraction, a number of counties and other municipalities throughout New York State have prohibited their use of highways, landfills, and water treatment facilities out of caution for their freshwater supplies and infrastructure.  Below are links to some of the municipalities that have implemented brine and other frack waste bans.

Additionally, Riverkeeper has drafted a module legislation that deals comprehensively with the waste generated from oil and natural gas exploration (available here).  Even though fracking is not happening in New York State, pipelines and other infrastructure, plus our proximity to  fracking sites in other states mean that municipalities must take local action if they are concerned about the effects of fracking waste products in their communities.

Local Concerns about Dominion’s New Markets Project, the Pilgrim Pipeline, and Natural Gas Infrastructure Expansions 

The lack of an adequate public comment period and need for independent impact studies have mobilized local elected officials in a number of communities.  As the interactive map of shale gas infrastructure at youareherenymap.org, the proposed Dominion expansion would be a significant project that goes from the Pennsylvania border, through the Finger Lakes to Dryden, Utica, and Schenectady, that would push increasing volumes of natural gas through pipes that are more than half a century old.

EOPNY Steering Committee Member and Tompkins County Legislator Carol Chock provided very thorough comments to FERC in response to the New Market Project (available at this link), in which she addressed the lack of notice provided to local government officials, the need for a complete Environmental Impact Statement, an independent analysis of greenhouse has emissions, and the broad scope of necessary factors to be reviewed before the project can proceed.

Additionally, five Otsego County towns (Otsego, Cherry Valley, Springfield, and Middlefield) and the Village of Sharon Springs (Schoharie County) have passed this resolution opposing this projects, its potential effects, the lack of studies of potential consequences, and the lack of sufficient opportunities for public comments.  Likewise, the Town of Ulysses (Tompkins County) has passed this resolution opposing the Dominion New Market Pipeline Project and calling on FERC to require independent impact assessments as well as a scoping hearing to be held in Tompkins County.

In Ulster County, the Towns of New Paltz and Rosendale have passed this resolution opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline.

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News from Communities Across Our State

Two Syracuse councilors call on Obama to reconsider his stand on fracking: Your letters

Syracuse Post-Standardhttp://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Letter-Governor-Cuomo-insist-on-a-drilling-4413098.php

To the Editor: As Syracuse Common Councilors tremendously proud of our city, we are pleased that President Obama chose to visit this week, casting a national spotlight on Syracuse and the surrounding region. As individuals who have each spent much of our careers focusing on the environment and clean water, we urge President Obama to carefully consider the science on fracking and reevaluate his position.

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Studies on Fracking

July 10, 2014: Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings
Demonstratin Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction

Concerned Health Professionals of New York: http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CHPNY-Fracking-Compendium.pdf

As this unconventional extraction method (collectively known as “fracking”) has pushed into more densely populated areas of the United States, and as fracking operations have increased in
frequency and intensity, a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these
activities are inherently dangerous to people and their communities. Risks include adverse
impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability and
economic vitality. This compendium is a comprehensive, accessible collection of studies examining fracking’s risks.

Health Impacts of Fracking

6/2014: Hydraulic Fracturing and Your Health:
Air Contamination

Physicians for Social Responsibilityhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=methane-in-pennsylvania-duke-study

“Based on the dangerous toxicity of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, plus its range of other environmental health impacts, Physicians for Social Responsibility supports a precautionary approach to hydraulic fracturing. This includes a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing until such time as impartial federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develop and implement enforceable rules that provide adequate protection for human health and the environment from fossil fuel extraction processes that use hydraulic fracturing.”

6/2014: Hydraulic Fracturing and Your Health:
Water Contamination

Physicians for Social Responsibilityhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=methane-in-pennsylvania-duke-study

“Fracking operations consume and contaminate enormous quantities of water. In order to fracture a single well site, natural gas companies typically use over 4 million gallons of water. This amount of water is equivalent to what 11,000 American families use in a day.”

6/2014: Health Risks of Hydraulic Fracturing: Food, Water, and Animals

Physicians for Social Responsibilityhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=methane-in-pennsylvania-duke-study

“Chemical exposures that harm farm animals and wild animals raise concern about health risks for people living near fracking sites, as the animals use the same water and breathe the same air as humans. Another, indirect concern for human health also exists: in multiple known cases of chemical exposure, cows continued to produce dairy and meat for human consumption, although it remained untested for chemical contaminants”

Methane in Pennsylvania Groundwater May Originate in Fracked Gas Wells

Scientific Americanhttp://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=methane-in-pennsylvania-duke-study

A new study links elevated levels of methane and other gases in groundwater to nearby hydraulic fracturing wells on the Marcellus shale, and suggests the problem lies in poorly designed well casings.

Air Pollution Harms Health of Texas Fracking Communities

Environmental News Servicehttp://ens-newswire.com/2013/09/20/air-pollution-destroys-health-of-texas-fracking-communities/

KARNES CITY, Texas, September 20, 2013 (ENS) – In the five years since the shale boom hit, the once-beautiful hills of south Texas have been transformed into a scarred, industrial landscape. The residents’ health is part of the collateral damage, according to the environmental watchdog group Earthworks. Their new study documents hazardous chemicals in the air and serious ailments reported by families living in close proximity to drilling operations.

Study Finds Increased Risk of Children with Heart Disease Born Near Natural Gas Drilling

Environmental Health Perspectiveshttp://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1306722/

Pregnant women living near natural gas wells face a higher risk of giving birth to children with neurological and heart defects, a new study shows. Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health examined birth defects among 125,000 babies born in small Colorado towns (50,000 people or less) between 1996 and 2009. In particular, they focused on the proximity between where the mothers lived and the location of natural gas wells.

Socioeconomic Studies on Fracking

September 27, 2014: “The roads were cracking, the crime rate was rising”: What happens when fracking takes over your town

Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/2014/09/27/the_roads_were_cracking_the_crime_rate_was_rising_what_happens_when_fracking_takes_over_your_town/

““The Overnighters,” which premiered this year at Sundance, will be making its theatrical debut on Oct. 10. Salon spoke with Moss about life in a city destabilized by the oil industry and the ambiguities of America’s energy explosion. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.”

April 11, 2014: At the Intersection of Wall Street and Main: Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Residential Property Interests, Risk Allocation, and Implications for the Secondary Mortgage Market

Albany Law Review: http://www.albanylawreview.org/issues/pages/article-information.aspx?volume=77&issue=2&page=xxxx

This extremely thorough Albany Law Review Article by Elizabeth Radow examines the potentially disastrous impacts fracking can have on mortgages and insurance for homeowners who have drilling on or near their property, whether they agreed to lease their land or were forced by compulsory integration.

Fracking leaves property values tapped out

MSN Money: http://money.msn.com/now/post–fracking-leaves-property-values-tapped-out

Depending on where you stand and what’s beneath the ground you’re standing on, fracking is either paving the way toward American energy independence or dooming it to methane-addled water and man-made tremors. The one certainty about fracking, however, is that it doesn’t exactly do wonders for property values.

Duke researchers show dip in home value caused by nearby fracking

The Duke Chronicle: http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2012/11/16/duke-researchers-show-dip-home-value-caused-nearby-fracking

Researchers have broken ground on how living near fracking sites influences property value… Duke researchers looked at over 19,000 pieces of property in Washington County, Pa. to study how living within 1.25 miles from a shale well will influence property value. They found that homes dependent on piped water had an increase in their property value and those that depended on groundwater saw a decrease as a result of living near a fracking site.

Fracking Main Street: New Report Shows Social Costs for Rural Communities

DeSmog Blog: http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/09/23/fracking-s-other-impacts-new-report-shows-social-costs-rural-communities

What’s it like living in a small town that’s gone from rust belt farmland to fracking boomtown? First, residents often say, there’s the traffic… Others often describe the impacts on the social fabric – a “wild west” atmosphere that brings with it increased crime and public health problems. But these reports have been largely anecdotal, with little to quantify how big these impacts are or how much of it is due to fracking. Until now. A new report by Food and Water Watch examines the social impacts of fracking, comparing traffic, crime and sexually transmitted infections in rural Pennsylvania counties. Using a decade worth of county-level data, they compare the differences between counties with substantial fracking and without, and how these counties have changed over time, from before the boom until after it set in.

MA Has Double the Jobs in Clean Energy That PA Has in Natural Gas

Breaking Energy: http://breakingenergy.com/2013/09/19/ma-has-double-the-jobs-in-clean-energy-that-pa-has-in-natural-gas/

Five years after signing one of the nation’s most progressive pieces of energy legislation into law, Massachusetts continues to see strong growth in solar, wind, efficiency and high-technology jobs throughout the clean energy industry.

The latest progress report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) shows that jobs in the clean energy sector have grown by 24 percent since 2011, with nearly 80,000 people directly employed in the industry. The overall job growth rate in Massachusetts has been 3 percent since 2011.

As energy expert John Hanger points out over at his blog, that’s more than twice the number of natural gas jobs created in Pennsylvania from the surge of fracking. It’s also considerably more than the 64,000 direct and indirect jobs created in North Dakota by the unconventional oil and gas boom.

Document estimates fracking’s toll on N.Y. roads: Repairs could cost hundreds of millions annually, it states

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20110726/NEWS01/107260384/Document-estimates-fracking-s-toll-N-Y-roads?nclick_check=1

A leaked internal New York State Department of Transportation document suggests that the state is not ready for an estimated increase of up to 1.5 million heavy truck trips per year that could result from natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The cost of the increased heavy traffic could result in the need for repairs and reconstruction ranging from $211 million to $378 million annually, the document states.

Report finds each Marcellus gas well costs thousands in road damage

NPR: State Impact: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2014/03/27/report-finds-each-marcellus-gas-well-costs-thousands-in-road-damage/

Each shale gas well in Pennsylvania causes between $5,400 and $10,000 in damage to state roads, according to a recent report by researchers at the Rand Corp.

2/4/2014: Shareholders Protest Fracking Risks

Financial Advisor Magazine: http://www.fa-mag.com/news/shareholders-protest-fracking-risks-16859.html

A leaked internal New York State Department of Transportation document suggests that the state is not ready for an estimated increase of up to 1.5 million heavy truck trips per year that could result from natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The cost of the increased heavy traffic could result in the need for repairs and reconstruction ranging from $211 million to $378 million annually, the document states.

2/4/2014: The Economics of Shale Gas in New York

Scribd via James Northrup: http://www.scribd.com/doc/205137924/The-Economics-of-Shale-Gas-in-New-York

A brief document containing the slides presented at a recent New York State Senate hearing on hydraulic fracturing entitled “Economic Realities of Hydrofracking” that illustrates economic reserve estimates in the Marcellus shale region.

2/4/2014: Economic Realities of Shale Gas Development in New York State

Jannette M. Barth, Ph.D: Available Here via PDF

This comprehensive report by Dr. Barth examines key impacts of shale gas development in New York State, including omitted costs, the price of natural gas, employment and job creation, and tax receipts. The report accompanied Dr. Barth’s verbal testimony delivered during the “Economic Realities of Hydrofracking” forum hosted by State Senator Tony Avella on February 4, 2014.

Environmental Impact Studies

8/26/2014: Shale Drilling Destroys Regional Water Resources

Fresh Water Accountability Projecthttp://fwap.org/shale-drilling-destroys-regional-water-resources/

“Ohioans are beginning to realize that unconventional shale drilling uses a great deal of water, permanently ruining it for other uses. But what they may not know is fracked gas and oil wells in Ohio are turning out to be less productive over time, with more water needed so the effects of water usage are rising. Now, each time a Utica well is fracked in Ohio, over seven million gallons of water is needed on average per well. This volume of water needed is steadily increasing as the long drilled laterals increase in length. As more and more water becomes necessary per unit of gas or oil produced, the cumulative effects are being seen. Very little water is recycled by the industry for re-use; most fracked water is lost to the watershed and beyond forever as it is turned into concentrated toxic and radioactive waste.”

4/14/2014: Climate Change Is Already Here, Says Massive Government Report

U.S. Global Change Research Programhttp://nca2014.globalchange.gov/system/files_force/downloads/low/NCA3_Climate_Change_Impacts_in_the_United%20States_LowRes.pdf?download=1 (PDF)

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says in its introduction. The full report, at more than 800 pages, is the most comprehensive look at the effects of climate change in the U.S. to date, according to its authors. (Even the “highlights” document provided to reporters the day before the release weighed in at 137 pages). The report includes regional and sectoral breakdowns of current and anticipated impacts, which have implications for infrastructure, agriculture, human health, and access to water.

Injection Wells: The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground

ProPublicahttp://www.propublica.org/series/injection-wells

This investigation of “more than 700,000 injection wells across the country found that wells were often poorly regulated and experienced high rates of failure, outcomes that were likely polluting underground water supplies that are supposed to be protected by federal law. That investigation also disclosed a little-known program overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that exempted more than 1,000 other drinking water aquifers from any sort of pollution protection at all, many of them in California.”

Unexpected loose gas from fracking

Washington Posthttp://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/unexpected-loose-gas-from-fracking/950/

A survey of hydraulic fracturing sites in Pennsylvania revealed drilling operations releasing plumes of methane 100 to 1,000 times the rate the EPA expects from that stage of drilling, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

4 states confirm water pollution from drilling

USA Todayhttp://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/some-states-confirm-water-pollution-from-drilling/4328859/

PITTSBURGH (AP) — In at least four states that have nurtured the nation’s energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.

Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States

Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceshttp://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/11/20/1314392110

Carbon dioxide emissions—with the exception of emissions from transportation—come from large, industrial sources. By contrast, methane emissions leak out of hundreds of thousands of sources that include valves, pipes, landfills, and waste pools. In oil and gas production, these emissions, known as ‘fugitive’, are just that; they steal out of the equipment and infrastructure and go uncounted into the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency requires gas production, processing and transmission facilities to report fugitive emissions using emissions using estimates based on a predetermined calculation for leakage rates for each piece of equipment. But actual leakage rates can vary depending on the type of equipment, how it is maintained, the type and pressure of the gas that it conveys, and the geology of the formation from which it is withdrawn. The estimations are necessarily inexact. This study of fugitive methane emissions lead by Harvard claimed that emissions for the 2007-2008 period were 50 percent above the estimates used by the EPA for that year. The Harvard study is different to preceding studies in that it doesn’t rely on estimates or incomplete measurements, but rather uses to cell phone tower and airplane mounted instruments to detect the mass balance of methane in the air. The data is harder to quibble with.

Cumulative Impact Studies

April 14, 2014: Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania counties report ‘mixed bag’ on hydrofracking effects

The Legislative Gazette: http://www.legislativegazette.com/Articles-Top-Stories-c-2014-04-14-87574.113122-Ohio-West-Virginia-Pennsylvania-counties-report-mixed-bag-on-hydrofracking-effects.html

Researchers from states that are experienced with hydraulic fracturing released a collaborative report on how gas drilling has affected four counties in the United States and made recommendations to states considering allowing fracking within their borders.

Authors of the report found the counties highlighted in the report were not prepared for the costs and problems they faced after fracking was allowed and recommend that states planning to allow fracking improve their transportation infrastructure, especially preparing roads for big trucks; bolster public services such as police and emergency services; and control the drilling industry through zoning laws and frequent communication.

Increased Gas Drilling Activities Bringing New Challenges to Local Governments in Pennsylvania

Pennslyvania Department of Transportation Via PRNewswire: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/increased-gas-drilling-activities-bringing-new-challenges-to-local-governments-in-pennsylvania-94774764.html

Counties and municipalities across Pennsylvania where natural gas drilling is taking place — particularly in the Northern Tier region — are also struggling to meet a number of additional challenges associated with the industry’s increased presence and rapid growth, according to state officials… PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski today said that in the wake of the drilling, there have been increases in truck traffic, traffic violations, crime, demand for social services, and the number of miles of roads that are in need of repairs.

Oil-Fueled Population Growth in Montana and North Dakota Bring Crime and Strain Law Enforcement Resources

Montana All Threat Intelligence Center & North Dakota State
and Local Intelligence Center: http://www.ag.state.nd.us/reports/JOINTPRODUCTFINAL.pdf

Montana Board of Crime Control:
http://mbcc.mt.gov/Data/SAC/Bakken/2013SocialImpactBakken.pdf

“The fusion centers assess that increases in population in the Williston Basin region are a direct consequence of the increased job availability and economic growth fueled by the development of the Bakken oilfields… With the increase in population there has been an increase in arrests, criminal activity and vehicle crashes. The fusion centers assess that these increases will likely require additional law enforcement resources… Increases in calls for service, arrests, index crimes, fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle crashes, and sexual offenders, as well as significant turnover and recruitment issues have exacerbated the challenges experienced by law enforcement agencies.