Alternative Fracking Method May Soon Debut – in New York!

fox in hen houseThe anti-drilling crowd is about to be tested as to their true reasons for opposing shale gas drilling, and it will happen in leftist paradise—New York State.

What if you removed 99 percent of the stated objections to fracking? Took away the millions of gallons of water needed to frack a single well? Took away almost all of the chemicals used? Took away fracking wastewater that either needs to be recycled or treated or injected into a deep well? Took away almost all of the heavy truck traffic and noise and other industrialization concerns? In short—what if you took away almost every reason to oppose gas drilling?

That’s the promise of using LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), a gel, instead of using water in the fracking process. LPG fracking is a process pioneered by Canadian company GASFRAC, and has been long touted by several MDN readers (“Hey Jim, why don’t you push this more!!”). MDN’s position is that there is nothing inherently wrong with traditional, water-based fracking, and no reason to abandon the method that has worked so well. Especially because LPG fracking costs a lot more to do, and in a low-commodity-price-for-natural-gas market, companies need every edge they can get.

However, the Tioga County Landowners Group—a group of 200 families with some 135,000 acres collectively, located in Tioga County, NY—is ready to push the envelope and sign a deal that will allow LPG fracking on their land. Here’s the beauty of it: LPG fracking would fall under the older, 1992 SGEIS law. That is, LPG fracking can happen now, under current New York State law.

The Tioga group has agreed in principle to a deal with eCorp International with the stipulation that eCorp use LPG fracking. According to the attorney for the landowner group, the motivation for using LPG is based on environmental concerns and not an attempt to circumvent or speed up drilling that has been on hold for the past four years in New York.

Chris Denton, an Elmira-based attorney representing the Tioga County landowners group, said the deal will be presented to the individual landowners in the group in the coming weeks. He said the decision to go with GasFrac was based on the environmental benefits of using LPG rather than an effort to speed the process up.*

How will this play at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), where an anti-drilling fox (DEC Commissioner Joe Martens) guards the fracking hen-house? DEC spokesperson Emily DeSantis doesn’t give LPG a full-throated endorsement, but she does indicate a permit for LPG fracking would not have to wait for the new SGEIS rules to be adopted:

“DEC has met with landowner group representatives and company technical people on this issue previously,” DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in a statement. “If we receive a formal application, we will follow the current permitting process as set forth in the 1992 SGEIS, however, our review may require additional information and additional (State Environmental Quality Review Act) analysis, including an (environmental impact statement), if warranted.”

What that means is this: The DEC would review any formal permits for LPG fracking under the 1992 document, but it’s reserving the right to require further environmental reviews of the technique, which has been used in Canada but not in New York.*

So MDN asks, what will the enviro-left do when all of their stated reasons for opposing fracking are gone? That’s right, they’ll invent new reasons to continue covering the ugly fact that they are prejudiced against fossil fuels and that anything not “sustainable” and “alternative” is not acceptable in their worldview. It will be fascinating to watch how this develops.

*Albany Watch (Mar 28, 2012) – Tioga County Fracking Deal Leaves DEC With Choice