Gas Fracking News from NY State

Blog, Energy, Les Routledge

New York State appears to be ready to release regulations on how hydro-fracturing of gas deposits will happen in the state.

While the regulation will most likely be quite restrictive, what is interesting is that development will be allowed to occur at all.  Given that the commissioner in charge of this process came for a land conservation perspective, the following statement from the article is surprising.

There is no evidence that we found that fracking fluids can migrate through that … distance and those zones. That is not to say that there aren’t shallow migration problems. We just don’t see any risk from the deep horizontal well that is very far underground and migration up to the lowest level of fresh water.

Now the next step is for Quebec to get on with a real science assessment of the issue and initiate responsible development in their jurisdiction.

As an individual who has experience working in oil and gas sector, I am more than willing to admit that there are some increased risks associated with hydraulic fracturing techniques and appropriate safeguards need to be put in place.  Accidental surface spills and equipment failures, although rare, can and do occur.  Trucking of working fluids present one obvious risk of spills.  While the risk of working fluids coming up from the gas zones to water aquifers is nearly non-existent, there is a small risk that well casing failures can occur resulting in ground water contamination.  All of those risks need to be acknowledged and dealt with by developers.  Pipelines are not 100% reliable and safe let alone gas drilling and fracking operations.

If the industry wants to get rural land owners onside, the developer should offer neighbors a no-fault insurance policy to pay for any loss of water supply quality without the injured party having to go through litigation to prove fault.  The cost of this insurance should be minimal if the methods employed are safe and comply with industry best practices.  This tactic most likely would be a lot less expensive than employing PR flacks and lawyers to deny that any risk exists at all.