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Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary
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What is the fight that we are all in together? Are we fighting the harvesting of the gas, how it is harvested, how closely it is watched, what fines and restitution will be collected for violations? Just yelling "hell no" isn't going to get anyone anywhere. This gas will be developed. You want to put your emphasis on oversight and restitution for damage and don't let the salivation over profits hasten the process of permiting and drilling.

Posted on: 2010/4/2 21:18
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Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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Quote:

JackM wrote:
What is the fight that we are all in together? Are we fighting the harvesting of the gas, how it is harvested, how closely it is watched, what fines and restitution will be collected for violations?


JackM, Maybe fight is to strong a word. Your points are all the thing we should be asking our legislators including taxing the gas the companies take. That's why I urge everyone to contact then with these concerns. Many people do not use these areas for recreation and don't care about what happens to them. Those of us that do and do not live there should be concerned what will happen to these areas. I am not against the drilling. I would like to see a temporary halt to new permits and the time put into doing it right so all will benefit from this.

Forums are a great way to discuss many thing that interest us but sometimes the emotion in the persons voice and the expression on there faces are not part of the message. I am not a Rep or a Dem. I am only a person who enjoys nature and would like to see it continue.

Posted on: 2010/4/3 8:20


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary
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I was commenting mainly on the protesters picture along with your suggestion of a fight. We do need to be vigilant. This could be very good economically, so it would help to be partners, even if unwilling and cautious.

Posted on: 2010/4/3 9:03
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Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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If this is true, why are the hotels in my area (northern Lackawanna & southern Susquehanna counties) filled with guys from AK, TX, etc.? Are the jobs promised to PA workers in the hospitality industry?
I was up at our place in Potter over the weekend. I had the occasion to speak to a person whose brother is in law enforcement. Apparently they are having a problem with the gas workers looking for hookers. I guess that can be considered the hospitality industry.

Posted on: 2010/4/4 18:46


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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Wow, Jack and I agree!

Fly Swatter. Yes, it has to do with the fact that I grew up with gas wells as part of the landscape, and due to the fact that as part of my profession I'm kind of plugged in to various energy industries. It's amazing how many wells there are. There's 4 in sight of my parents house, and probably 10 within a mile radius. A few of those are new. All of them were Frac'd, I remember the house shaking when they'd frac em, a neighbor actually had some minor structural damage once. And, as you saw, there are plenty in the national forest too. That stream I took you to with the waterfall, there's at least 6 active wells within sight of it. We parked on the access road to one of them. Several were built within last few years. They are a real eyesore when they go up, the huge derrick, all the trucks and mud. But they're a smaller eyesore once the drilling teams leave.

And FWIW, no, I have no family with wells on their property, and we recieve no money from the gas industry. The company I work for is a provider for the drilling industry, but we're also a provider for other energy industries, like wind, nuclear, coal, etc.

The one thing all of these industries have in common, is that they agree we need a heck of a lot more energy than we have today, and we need it like yesterday. Energy demand is projected to increase something like 30% in the next decade, and the current large scale plants are scaling back in production (they're old and breaking down). We're already building wind about as fast as we can and they can't get new facilities through environmental red tape, GE is the biggest player there. We can't get gas quick enough, the very nature of the slow collection from wells prevents it. Yeah, Marcellus may have enough gas to last the current U.S. demand 100 years, but what they don't tell you is that it may take 600 years to get it all, and at this rate the current demand will more than double in our lifetime. We did just push through 2 nuclear plants, bravo to Obama on that one, but we need about 20 more and I'll be shocked if these ones are online in 10 years. It's looking a lot like we're going to have a vast expansion of coal, which is already starting. While none of these are exactly pleasant to have in our backyards, coal is almost surely the worst. It's simple. Gas wells take a few acres and can cover several square miles from that one spot. Coal has to clear those square miles. Both come from PA.

And, by the way, the project my wife is working on is using solar to create natural gas from airborne CO2. If it can be perfected, it creates an excellent storage mechanism for solar energy, which is the real problem with both solar and wind right now. You can't turn them up when you need more and down when you don't. If you have an overabundance of energy, you can get away with it, since you always have a backup plan. But we have a contrained system, and the investment dollars have to equate with electricity when you need electricity. Personally, with her project, I see more potential in using solar (or wind) to make hydrogen from water. But you work on what you get funded for, NSF controls the future.

But yes, I'm fully on board with making them slow down. In the areas that aren't use to gas wells, it's taking the locals a while (too long) to realize what needs to be protected, and the drillers are rushing to get started before any controls are put into place. And what I'm trying to tell people is that, while I'm heartened to see everyone getting into it, an unreasonable focus on hydrofrac'ing is going nowhere fast, and delaying more pressing concerns. And the first hand reports I'm hearing, like Festus's, are verification of my worst fears.

Posted on: 2010/4/4 23:37


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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http://www.chiefog.com/drilling_process.html

Interesting illustration of the process.

Posted on: 2010/4/6 21:22


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary
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Interesting video. Here's my question to all the geologists or geophysicists on board:

When the process is in the stage represented in the pictures below, that is, from breaking into the ground until the drill-head reaches the point below "the lowest freshwater aquifer," they speak of pumping a "mud" into the shaft to cool the bit. What happens to this mud if the shaft passes through other freshwater aquifers? What about other horizontal fissures? Does this mud escape into the shallow crust's environs? Is this how wells are poisoned and other environmental escapes happen?

*Groundwater is water that is found underground in cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rocks. The area where water fills these spaces is called the saturated zone. The top of this zone is called the water table … just remember the top of the water is the table. The water table may be only a foot below the ground's surface or it may be hundreds of feet down.

Groundwater is stored in -- and moves slowly through -- layers of soil, sand, and rocks called aquifers. The speed at which groundwater flows depends on the size of the spaces in the soil or rock, and how well the spaces are connected. Aquifers typically consist of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock like limestone. These materials are permeable because they have large connected spaces that allow water to flow through.

Attach file:



jpg  Frack1.jpg (55.90 KB)
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jpg  Frack2.jpg (80.54 KB)
12_4bbc68162fbc0.jpg 621X353 px

Posted on: 2010/4/7 7:10
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Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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Jack,

Yes, its a relatively dangerous time. The drilling mud is not the same stuff as frac fluid. For the most part, the environmental protections during this stage arise from using less dangerous stuff. Biodegradable.

The Airfoam HD spill a while back is an additive at this stage. Drilling mud should not be allowed to enter surface water directly. But so long as precautions are taken to make sure it stays in the ground for a while before reaching the surface, it will degrade and cause no harm.

The frac fluid doesn't make an appearance until well after the well casing goes in.

To my knowledge, contamination from frac fluid is relatively rare and typically results from well casing failures (under pressure) or surface spills. That said, if the chances are 1 in a 1000, but there's 1000 wells in a watershed, well.....

Posted on: 2010/4/7 9:06


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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I think a realistic, pragmatic view mandates that this huge drilling push is going to continue and be with us for the long haul. The realities of the economic situation in the targeted regions and the realities of our national energy situation pretty much guarantee it.

Ever since the life force (young people leaving, businesses folding, etc.) began to flee our small towns and rural areas in earnest in the 70's and 80's (it has been going on longer than this, but this is roughly when the real acceleration kicked in..), there has been a strong resentment in rural PA regarding a sense they have of urban/suburban folks demanding these areas be prioritized as "playgrounds" for their weekends and stifling homegrown economic development through the regulatory process (particularly environmental regs) to achieve these ends. The gas drilling issue comes down dead square in the center of this flashpoint of resentment and friction. It's a potential shot in the arm for small towns and rural counties that have been dying for decades and are desperate for anything that will help them keep going. The facts of our national energy quandary only serve to amplify the pressure to make it happen.

So, I tend to agree that the best (and only realistic) solution is regs with teeth that are enforced. Unfortunately, regulatory enforcement on environmental matters has historically, with some exceptions for the more egregious violators, been done more with the rubber chicken than the ball bat. A lot of these actions linger and linger and linger, often years before resolution.

One of the main reasons for this is that a lot of them historically have been handled through the consent decree process where the court or agency allows the violator to continue to operate contingent upon their making corrections by a certain future date. Designed as a means to enforce the law without suddenly bankrupting businesses (with the subtext of the attendant lost jobs), these consent decrees have often been used by various and sundry industries as a means of delaying the cost of compliance, sometimes indefinitely as the time limits on consent decrees are often extended by the courts when petitioned by the violator.

When I was living in PA and working with one of the foundations established to use the Citizen Suit provision of CWA to nudge violators into compliance, I'd say at least half of the actions we reviewed had to do with interminable consent decree situations.

So, my view of one good place to start in ensuring that any drilling regs have sufficient teeth to allow both the economic benefits of the ops and the integrity of the resource to remain in place is to exclude Marcellus ops from consideration for handling by consent decree or at least mandate that there will be no extensions and that the original compliance dates mandated are real and final.

I don't know how this would play or could be done legally (denying the consent decree option to a specific industry and still leaving it available to others) , but I think it would be a significant aid to good enforcement.

Posted on: 2010/4/7 10:23


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary
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Do we know how thick the concrete chamber/bore hole casing is required to be? The metal casing is not used to the depth below the lowest aquifer.

Are they required to case with concrete at stages as they pass throough each layer of groundwater, or not until they drop below that
lowest point?"

Is the concrete casing required to be pressure tested for structural integrity constantly before introduction of frac fluid and then as the process continues? Is there assured monitoring of seepage of the liberated gas from the bore hole into surrounding fissures?

Posted on: 2010/4/7 10:28
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Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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I don't know the answers to those questions, but would be interested in knowing.

I do know that the drill mud is typically designed to be relatively impermeable, and it coats the outside of the bore hole. The reason isn't to prevent mud from entering the groundwater, though, the intent is to prevent groundwater from entering the borehole and screwing up the mud!

As for the liberated gas, while I can't say there's never been an exception, generally, you're not deep enough yet for methane. Once you get below groundwater and put in the casings, you're still well above methane deposits.

The fears I've seen of methane seepage on this board seem to suggest people thinking the methane will seep from the hydrofrac'd layer up through the ground to the surface water. I find that highly doubtful, there remains many in tact layers above the frac'd layer. Plus, Marcellus should be less susceptible to this than traditional shallow drilling.

But where there can be an issue is with the casing above the water table cracking and seeping, as you say, which could contaminate groundwater with methane and frac fluid chemicals. The answer would be better regulations on the casing, I would think.

There are also reports of pipes bursting on the surface. Whether its a material failure, installation errors, etc., I don't know. But I do know that with highly predictable conditions, this should almost never occur. Pick better materials, better control the design of the systems, closer scrutiny of installation, inspections, etc.

Posted on: 2010/4/7 11:04


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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I agree with pcray that a singular focus on fracking/frac fluids alone as a source of contamination or pollution is probably not the best way to go. It appears the EPA and others involved in their study have caught on to that as well. Here is a link to an article about hearings that recently began on the overall pollution threat from gas drilling. http://www.propublica.org/feature/bro ... aises-ire-of-gas-industry

Posted on: 2010/4/7 12:01


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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Very good article. Thats the most detailed article of the problems I've read to date. Thank you!

The study should be done with a wide scale. The results, if they show ways of improvement, should be used to enforce new environmental protections, rather than demonize the industry as a whole. Drilling is very important to this country's future. There is a way to drill and do it cleanly, but we're not quite there right now.

Posted on: 2010/4/7 13:10


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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I do believe it is a good article, but I don't believe that onshore drilling in the US is important or even helpful to this country's future from either environmental or economic standpoints. From what I read, the US imports a great deal of natural gas and exports a great deal of the gas we drill onshore here. It seems to me that continued drilling is only important to the future of the bottom line of a fossil fuel industry that is being threatened by a growing desire in this country and others for clean energy sources. The sooner we turn our focus to the further development of solar, wind, and other non-fossil fuel energy sources, the better off this country will be. As for the more narrow picture of marcellus shale drilling in PA, I totally agree that we need more stringent environmental regulation, but that was needed before the gas rush ever started. In my view, a statewide moratorium on drilling, and detailed study of what has already been done, is the only way to properly approach the situation. The gas has been there for millions of years and it won't go away if we pause and study whether it's safe, or even desirable to our way of life in this state, to extract it today.

Posted on: 2010/4/7 14:18


Re: "GASLAND" a new documentary

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From what I read, the US imports a great deal of natural gas and exports a great deal of the gas we drill onshore here. It seems to me that continued drilling is only important to the future of the bottom line of a fossil fuel industry that is being threatened by a growing desire in this country and others for clean energy sources.


1. It's true that we import and export. But imports send money overseas, and exports bring money here. Too much of an imbalance (in any product, not just fuel) is indeed very bad for our economy. It's real simple, the more you produce, the more money in your country.

2. The fossil fuel industry is not being threatened by anything. I wish it were, but its not. It is booming like never before. The demand for energy is going up very quickly, much faster than the supply of energy is growing. All energy, from renewables to fossil fuels, are booming.

Quote:
The sooner we turn our focus to the further development of solar, wind, and other non-fossil fuel energy sources


We're already focusing on those things. Solar, wind, and other non-fossil fuels are growing at a ridiculous, and increasing rate. It's just not enough, and won't be enough anytime soon. The infrastructure isn't there. You need raw materials industry, fabrication plants, etc. The U.S. no longer has the industrial base to sustain a such a rapid expansion. Fossil fuel plants supply a lot more energy for a lot less initial materials.

If you had more time, say, if demand were static, it'd be fine. You could add wind and solar as fast as you could make them, and replace coal, gas, for each one you put up. But thats not the case. Demand is soaring, and supply from our old plants are falling. Renewables cannot make up the difference fast enough. We're in a bad pinch. It's not oil vs. gas. vs. coal vs. nuclear vs. solar vs. wind vs. geothermal vs. biofuel vs. hydro-electric. It's more of all of the above, as fast as we can, and we still have a problem.

Posted on: 2010/4/7 15:09



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