In a follow-up to yesterday’s blockbuster news that fracking may begin in New York sooner rather than later if Tioga County, NY landowners move forward with LPG fracking (see this MDN story), the website Seeking Alpha makes the following interesting comment about the proprietary LPG technology used by GASFRAC, and about GASFRAC’s future prospects:
The 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?
A group of 18 Tioga County, NY landowners have sued Inflection Energy to overturn Inflection’s “force majeure” claim to extend the lease on their collective 1,200 acres. A force majeure clause is written into most gas lease contracts. It means a driller can automatically extend the length of the lease if there are unforeseen events that hinder the terms of the contract—in this case commencement of drilling—from happening.
Three New York State counties that sit on the border with Pennsylvania will likely be the first, and biggest beneficiaries of Marcellus Shale drilling when it finally begins in New York. Those counties are Broome, Tioga and Chemung. That prediction comes from two of the most prominent geologists in the Marcellus Shale:
Professor Terry Engelder, a Ph.D. geologist and professor of geosciences at Penn State University, was an early and strong proponent for shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. He is without a doubt PA’s leading expert on the subject. So when Dr. Engelder makes predictions, people listen, because he’s usually right. He recently made a prediction about where drilling in New York State will likely occur once New York finally begins to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
A number of landowners in New York’s Southern Tier region (Broome and Tioga Counties) signed leases with gas companies in 2000 for peanuts, $3 per acre, long before shale gas drilling was discovered and used. The technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have been around for decades, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the two were combined to tap shale gas.
Last week, Patriot Water LLC withdrew their application to convert a former car dealership on the edge of the Village of Owego, NY (in Tioga County) into a wastewater treatment plant to deal specifically with wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania, and from New York, when drilling finally begins there.
Each well drilled in the Marcellus will use approximately 3 million gallons of water during the process of hydro fracturing. Much of that water comes back out of the ground and needs to be treated so it can be re-used in drilling. Some of it will be treated and returned to area waterways, which is no different than the local sewage treatment plant. The fluids entering the environment from any wastewater plant must pass rigid tests to ensure no pollution occurs.
So the news that Patriot Water was planning to build and operate such a plant was good news for the Southern Tier of New York, bringing jobs and tax revenue to Tioga County. But one problem: The proposed site was very close to residential areas. Yes, it is zoned industrial, but it would mean four trucks an hour, 24 hours a day running down residential streets, and local folks didn’t want it. Can’t blame them.
But! Could Tioga County not have come back with a counter offer? Another location nearby that is not close to residential areas? Was there any kind of effort made at all? It appears not. And so, on March 3, Patriot Water said “no thanks” to Owego and Tioga County.
MDN recommends Patriot have a look at nearby Broome County, NY. There’s a couple of industrial parks close to Interstates 81 & 86 (NY Route 17) in the Conklin and Kirkwood areas, and those locations have truck traffic all the time. Perhaps the members of the town planning boards in Broome County will actually show up for meetings (unlike the Tioga County Planning Board, five members of whom abrogated their duties by not showing up for a crucial meeting on the Patriot request). Come on over to Broome, Patriot!
Owego Pennysaver (Mar 3) – Patriot Water, LLC withdraws application for Taylor Road site
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (Feb 17)
Owego wastewater plan hits snag
Patriot Water Treatment wants to build a wastewater treatment plant in Owego, NY. The plant would take in fracking water from drilling operations in the region, treat it, and return the water back to drillers to be used again. According to Andrew Blocksom, of Patriot, the resulting treated water is “cleaner than my tap water.” This new plant will bring 20 fulltime jobs and tax revenues to the community, and is needed for area drillers. But, it also will bring traffic, which is a concern:
Approximately four trucks per hour for 24 hours a day would enter the facility with fracking water. The facility would treat the water, distilling it in a vacuum, and provide distilled water back to trucks to return it to natural gas drilling sites.
Neighbors of the facility and those that live along proposed truck routes voiced concerns about spills and the toxicity of the incoming fracking water.
“I don’t think 24 hours, seven days a week is reasonable,” Village of Owego Mayor Ed Arrington said. “If there was another way, I wouldn’t oppose it.”
The Tioga County Planning Board was due to make a recommendation on whether or not the Village of Owego Planning Board should accept the plan. Unfortunately, five of the Tioga County Planning Board members were AWOL from the meeting, so the final vote was 5 to 2 to recommend, but not the required 6 affirmative vote minimum that would be needed for an official recommendation. Marcellus Drilling News wants to know why five members were missing from such an important meeting? For or against the facility is not the issue—Planning Board members are supposed to be present and represent the people. This is dereliction of duty in our humble opinion.
No word on who was absent, and no word on what the next step is for Patriot now that it appears the process is stalled.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (Oct 28):
Drilling processor targets Owego site
From the Oct. 28th Press & Sun-Bulletin:
A plant to treat waste from the Marcellus Shale is on the drawing board in the Town of Owego.
Patriot Water Treatment pitched its plans to convert a former car dealership at 936 Taylor Road to a waste water treatment plant for Marcellus drillers at a planning board meeting Tuesday night. The proposal calls for installing holding and processing tanks in the existing building to treat round-the-clock shipments of drilling waste water, according to information from the planning board.
The plan, recommended for approval by the Tioga County Planning Board, estimates traffic from industrial waste haulers would average 96 trucks per day (four per hour), seven days a week. Haulers would use Day Hollow Road, Bodle Hill Road and Taylor Road to access the facility.
Of course, anything to do with drilling is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) opposed by the Press & Sun-Bulletin. The thought they want to leave you with is trucks lumbering down your street in the middle of the night hauling nasty chemicals ready to spill out on your front lawn.
I know I would not want trucks round the clock going by my house–but–actually, they do! I live not a quarter mile from State Route 17 (the future I-86) and the traffic noise, especially from large trucks downshifting on a nearby hill, is 24×7. Traffic, especially if it’s mostly in the daytime, is a fact of commerce.
Let’s let the good citizens of the Owego Town Board perform their due dilligence and render a decision that is fair to all the citizens of Tioga County. If the proposed location is too close to homes and traffic will be an ongoing disturbance, they should deny the permit. If not, grant it and reap the benfits of more jobs and more tax revenue from a new business in the area.
I have confidence in our locally elected representatives to make the correct decision in this case.
WBNG-TV Action News (Oct 18):
Drilling Effects for Tioga County
A short segment on Channel 12 “Action News” starts out like this:
An environmentalist weighs the pro’s and con’s of tapping into the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier. Chair of the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Chris Burger, spoke at the Tioga Trails café in Owego tonight.
I think it was more like just the “cons” of drilling were covered. Channel 12 needs to put a little more “action” into their Action News. The BRSC is dead set against–and actively opposes–drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Know who your opponents are folks. Don’t fall for the lie that they’re presenting “fair and balanced environmental viewpoints” on the topic of drilling. They are not.
See for yourself: Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition.
A recent article published in The Oneonta Star covered two gas drilling “forums” that were conducted in Otsego County by the anti-drilling group Sustainable Otsego. The article is a lazy, biased view of a complicated issue–but there’s no surprise there. The mainstream media is not an impartial, investigative source of information as it once was. For example, the “reporter” didn’t bother to interview people attending the forums, but instead interviewed the people presenting the biased material. Go figure.
Amidst the standard talking points and mountain of…(ahem) less than objective information (ahem)…in the article, are a few nuggets of useful intelligence on drilling activities in the central region of New York State. Forthwith:
According to geologists, Otsego, Delaware and Chenango counties are potentially rich in gas deposited in the Marcellus Shale formation below ground. Groups representing landowners and gas company representatives have said the findings may make some landowners wealthy.
On how much land has been leased in Otsego County:
The Otsego County Conservation Association reports that 8.7 percent of acreage in Otsego County is leased for natural gas drilling, according to a media release from the group issued Monday. The rate is up from 7 percent reported previously by OCCA.
OCCA said since the beginning of the year, an additional 204 parcels have been signed, totaling 12,190 acres. Parcels now under lease contract number 839, with total acreage rising to 54,443 acres.
And on test wells:
Test wells several thousand feet deep have already been drilled in Springfield and Cherry Valley.
And this on applications for new drilling:
The DEC has received 31 applications for horizontal drilling wells, [Yancey] Roy [DEC spokesman] said, and the breakdown by county is Delaware 23; Tioga, four; Chenango two, and Chemung, two.
Read the full article: Gas drilling forums wrap up