Anti-Drillers Target Conventional NatGas Drilling in NY

crosshairsThe anti-drillers in New York are not content to block horizontal drilling. They increasingly have turned their attention to conventional, vertical natural gas drilling as their target, trying to shut down or otherwise harass an industry that has been safely operating in the state for decades.

The latest attempt is a sham “report” by the anti-drilling group Environmental Advocates of New York. This new “report” says wastewater disposal from conventional, vertical wells is too lax in the state. They want conventional drilling wastewater to be classified as a hazardous substance with cradle-to-grave tracking of all water used in any oil and gas drilling in the state—which is just another way of strangling an industry that has been an important part of the state’s economy for the past 100+ years.

From the AP:

A new report from an environmental group says New York’s oversight of waste disposal from existing natural gas-drilling operations is too lax, making it virtually impossible to track how much waste is produced and how drillers dispose of it.

The report released Friday by Environmental Advocates of New York examines Department of Environmental Conservation records related to 100 of the state’s 6,628 active gas wells. It finds industry reporting forms provide little detail on where drilling wastewater was sent and whether it actually got to the intended disposal site.

New York has had a moratorium on shale gas wells using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, since it began a review of the technology in 2008. But vertical wells, using lower volume fracking, are still allowed, as they have been for decades. Both types of well use chemically treated water at high pressure to crack stone and release gas into a well.

Fracking produces toxic wastewater that includes chemicals used in fracking as well as naturally occurring contaminants such as salts, heavy metals and radioactive particles. The amount of waste produced by vertical wells is a fraction of that produced by horizontal ones.*

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says the new report is inaccurate:

DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis disputed the report and provided figures stating that of 17.63 million gallons of gas-drilling wastewater produced in 2010 and disposed of in New York, 6.8 million gallons was spread on roads; 10.5 million sent to public treatment facilities; 0.3 million reused; and .03 million gallons was disposed of in injection wells.

DeSantis said drilling wastewater accounted for less than 8 percent of the 306 million gallons of industrial wastewater transported in New York in 2010.

All wastewater processed at public treatment plants must be tested for chemical makeup and the plant would have to demonstrate the capability to treat it, DeSantis said. No facilities in New York are currently permitted to accept wastewater from high-volume hydraulic fracturing.*

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA of NY) says that efforts to classify any and all drilling wastewater as hazardous would be the wrong move:

Legislation proposed in the state Senate and Assembly would classify waste from oil and natural gas production as "hazardous," making it subject to the cradle-to-grave tracking, handling and disposal measures required for other hazardous wastes.

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York opposes that legislation, saying it would jeopardize its recycling efforts and development of new on-site treatment technologies.*

This is just one more example of the unreasonable, close-minded nature of anti-drillers.

*Wall Street Journal/AP (May 4, 2012) – Report: NY regulations for drilling waste too lax