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Fracked without consent?

Monday, Dec 10, 2012

* After rejecting requests to lease their oil and gas rights for fracking on their land, a southern Illinois couple has discovered that their property could be fracked without their consent

A rural Williamson County couple was surprised to learn that the rights they own for oil and gas on their property may not protect them from the possibility of fracking on their land.

Joy and David Ramsey recently discovered that despite owning the gas and oil rights on their 44 acres of land east of Marion, they could be forced into a lease that would allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing on their property. […]

According to the Illinois Oil and Gas Act, unwanted leases can result under certain circumstances.

Drilling occurs in units, which vary in size but are usually between 10 and 40 acres. Drilling permit applicants need to secure the rights for all the property within the unit.

Because units can be spread across separately owned interests, if all leaseholders agree, they may integrate their interests and develop their lands as a drilling unit. However, if leaseholders can’t agree to integration within the unit, a hearing could be set in the matter.

The hearing would determine whether the unit is integrated.

* An attempt to regulate fracking came up short last spring.

As always with legislation, the question here is one of balance. There’s a real, tangible overall good to extracting lots of natural gas in order to lower the nation’s dependency on other fuel sources. If Illinois turns out to have a large amount of frackable natural gas, the state could receive tons of tax revenues. On the other hand, there are some real concerns about the impact on local landowners from fracking. A southern Illinois group has compiled a small list of problems so far. Click here to see it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


48 Comments
  1. - reflector - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    In some Illinois counties the land owners have had their coal rights taken away because of some tax no one knew about.


  2. - amalia - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    fracking is lucrative but quite dangerous. regulation is quite necessary to deal with the safety matters. it’s not just a question of the immediate area of the drill, but the way the gas travels and the water system. the people of the area deserve government action for protection.


  3. - 1776 - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Fracturing has occurred in Illinois and around the United States for more than six decades. While many of these “problems” are blamed on fracking, the facts show something much different.

    For example, a 1951 study by the Illinois State Groundwater Survey showed methane near wells. It occurs naturally - not as a result of fracturing. The same for chloride and other minerals that have been occurring naturally for years.

    Illinois needs strong regulations that balance the economic and energy needs with those of preserving the environment.


  4. - phocion - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    I understand the need for this type of law. Like eminent domain, a holdout can frustrate a public good. In this case presumably to ensure an efficient extraction of a field of fossil fuel. But I’ve seen enough of these fights to know that any kind of “taking” - whether for a good reason or not - gets folks very, very upset.


  5. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:39 am:

    Safe and responsible gas extraction/fracturing is a good stopgap until mature renewable sources are adopted but the risks of at least some forms of fracturing do seem to be real. Gasland is an excellent documentary on the negatives that can be associated with frac(k)ing.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:47 am:

    Quite a dilemma for Southern llinois. The ongoing domestic-source energy production boom, fueled in part by fracking, makes high-sulfur Illinois coal even less viable.


  7. - Judgment Day - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:56 am:

    Question in this particular case is how the different drilling ‘interests’ (working, royalty, and any overriding royalty) are spread out, and who held what percentages. They may hold 100% of the surface rights, but that’s not what is at issue here. And that means it goes to court.

    Also, the bigger issue with fracking is the availability of water. That’s not near as large of an issue in Southern Illinois - and remember, there’s already a substantial amount of stripper wells operating in large parts of Southern Illinois, with drilling running all the way up into DeWitt and Macon Counties in Central Illinois.

    If you’ve ever spent time down in Southern Illinois, you will find out quickly that Oil and Gas production is a substantial part of a number of Counties economy. So, they’re not necessarily unhappy with the prospect of fracking.


  8. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:10 pm:

    Big stakes for our country with the quantity of natural gas available helping to reduce dependence on Middle East oil.

    But the real stories of the problems so far are quite compelling. I’d hope that property owners could be paid generously for use of land from exploration companies.


  9. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:16 pm:

    The Southern Illinois group that’s opposed to fracking is headed by a yoga instructor. They are opposed to the use of oil for energy period. That’s how radical and ridiculous they are.

    Illinois could be sitting on a oil and gas boom the size of North Dakota’s according to Dick Durbin. For once, he gets it.

    The issue facing the Ramseys is something that has long been used in Illinois’ century-plus history of oil drilling. It’s not fracking-related.

    I’m not sure where the Ramsey’s property is located, but if it is east of Marion, it can’t be more than a few miles from abandoned strip mines, and if they’re north of Route 13, then the area’s been mined underground at least once already.

    We’ve put up with coal mining for 200 years in Illinois. Our oil industry has used fracking for 50 to 60 years. It’s not new. It’s just the deep lateral drilling used in combination with fracking that’s new.

    This could turn the economy around in the southeastern quadrant of the state, and it could be a bonanza of tax revenue for Illinois.

    Yes, our drilling laws and regs should be updated. Yes, we need some new fees to pay the staff required for DNR to regulate and review. What we don’t need are bans, or the governor’s office trying to politicize the permitting process in order for his political people to shake down the operators.


  10. - silverback - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:18 pm:

    Water shortage? Where does the water come from to “Frack” a well? It does not seem to be retrievable after injection.


  11. - sofox - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    “We’ve been fracking for 50 years” is one of the deceitful statements used in industry propaganda. High-volume horizontal fracking has been in use for less than 15 years and not at all in Illinois (yet). This new method of extraction is very unlike the old vertical style.


  12. - Gregor - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:39 pm:

    While it is true that the fracking zone is deep beneath the aquifers in most places, what the companies *don’t* mention is that well water and groundwater contamination mostly occurs when the contractors do a slipshod job of making the cement well casing that penetrates down to the fracking layer.

    The bad casing job, penetrating the aquifer at its own depth, is what lets the water table get contaminated by toxic fracking fluids. That, and the practice of pumping the contaminated fluid (what’s called “produced water”) into large evaporation ponds with substandard liners that allow leakage from the surface down into your ground water. These are much the same design as the ponds for getting rid of Hog waste, and are if anything more dangerous to be down-wind of, for all the volatiles and carcinogens evaporating off the water.

    If we’re going to allow gas production using these techniques, we absolutely HAVE to have proper oversight of the technical process, real regulation and honest monitoring, and a better means of dealing with the contaminated water than just putting it in an open pond and hoping it stays put. We don’t let coal mines get away with that any more; why should gas get a break?


  13. - Sunshine - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:39 pm:

    Preserving the fresh water zones is critical in drilling for oil and/or natural gas. Surface casing must be set past the known fresh water zones and cemented in using proven techniques. The well is then inspected before drilling is again commenced.

    Fracturing a particular pay zone is done by firing charges through the pipe once the entire well has been cased and cemented in. A mixture of fresh water and sand is pumped into that formation under very high pressure. It holds the formation open allowing greater production of oil and/or gas.

    The problem isn’t with fracturing as much as it is with assuring proper casing through fresh water zones. Lack of proper inspections, tighter rules, and unscrupulous operators has left many areas fresh water zones contaminated. Combine this with improperly plugged wells and operating wells improperly cased, along with improperly monitored and inspected salt water injection wells for tertiary oil recovery, and you have one big mess.

    As a side note…Illinois and Indiana have a law that states if oil or gas production has not been commenced or actively pursued for twenty years, then all these mineral interests convert back to the present land owner.


  14. - Let's be sensible - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:41 pm:

    First of all, check out how devastating high-volume fracking has been in North Dakota for the folks who live there. http://www.thenation.com/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply#

    As a Southern Illinois resident, I cannot support technologies which put residents at risk. There are ways to develop energy and jobs which do not traumatize families in Southern Illinois. The more we learn about past and current problems in IL from oil/gas, the more we realize that this is the tip of the iceberg compared to high-volume horizontal fracking.

    Also, please see Joy Ramsey’s full testimony at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u8XuKVeIFs

    Thank you


  15. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:46 pm:

    Laws in other states have been inadequate to protect residents, and there is serious question whether high-volume fracking can truly be accomplished in such a way as to prevent contamination from incidents like spills, fires, well casings leaking, problems with abandoned wells, transportation of dangerous chemicals, air contamination from the drilling, processing, and transportation of these dangerous substances, etc. Furthermore, regulations, no matter how effective, will not be able to keep upward to a trillion gallons of clean water from being turned into toxic waste if fracking reaches full scale in southern Illinois. Trading water for gas is a fools game in the long run.


  16. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:59 pm:

    A couple of points for those who need a little more information:

    1) While fracking is not new, the use with horizontal drilling is. While this may seem like a small change, if a layer of shale is drilled horizontally and then fractured there is a potential for the fractures to connect to overlying rock units which may be aquifers OR the new fractures may connect to improperly abandoned wells allowing fracking fluids and gas to migrate into aquifers.

    2) Fracking a horizontal well typically uses two to five million gallons of water. (A city of 10,000 people might use one to two million gallons of water per day.)

    3) 25-50% (or more) of the water used to frack might stay down the well, but the rest must be treated before it can be released due to the chemicals used to facilitate the fracking process.

    4) Because horizontal fracking is relatively new, there is not much documentation with respect to the impacts on local water quality or quantity issues. There are some studies that indicate fracking has had a negative impact on aquifers, but those impacts may be due to substandard practices by the drillers. (Fracking fluids have a “fingerprint” and can be traced to a source.)

    5)The story of migration of natural gas is much less clear due, in part, to the failure to collect data prior to fracking. While the claims that there has been no documented migration of gas may be true, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, just that the research is lagging.

    For Illinois, the GA needs to develop comprehensive legislation within a year or two if we are to keep regulation ahead of practice. Good legislation would address: Water use, waste water disposal, well construction, disclosure of fracking fluid composition, and monitoring of fracked units to identify potential migration of fluids or gas away from the target rock layer. It will take a serious effort to do this.

    The potential for economic gain is great, but there is also potential for economic harm. The gain would be large in the short term, while the harm might be spread out over a longer period. It is important not to let the desire for those easily quantified, short-term gains cause us to overlook the need for responsible regulations.

    Full disclosure: I am a geologist, but I am not associated with the oil & gas folks nor with the stop fracking folks. I am interested in regulations based in science.


  17. - Gregor - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:00 pm:

    Based on the history of “long wall” mining in Illinois, I am skeptical that fracking will be done any more responsibly.


  18. - Jimbo (jf) - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    Rich. When we have a discussion of an extremely high stakes issue like this is it difficult to detect the shills for either side? Either by IP or some other way?


  19. - Esquire - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:20 pm:

    “I drink your milk shake!”

    Daniel Day Lewis “There Will Be Blood”


  20. - 1776 - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:36 pm:

    Hydraulic fracturing results in significantly LESS surface disruption that traditional oil/gas removal. Instead of drilling at multiple sites, the new high volume fracturing drills one hole and then goes out in several directions.

    In terms of land usage, it takes significantly LESS land to produce fuel. For example, here are the number of acres needed to generate enough electricity to serve 1,000 households (source: RW Beck and Black & Leatch):

    Natural Gas - 0.3 acres
    Coal - 0.4 acres
    Biomass - 0.8 acres
    Nuclear - 1.2 acres
    Wind - 6 acres
    Solar - 6 acres

    The same type of numbers hold true for water intensity for power generation (US Dept. of Energy and NREL studies):

    Combined Cycle Convention or Shale Gas - 200 gallons/MWH
    Coal Thermal - 500 gallons/MWh
    Nuclear - 775 gallons/MWh
    Solar Trough - 825 gallons/MWH
    Geothermal - 1800 gallons/MWh

    For those who claim there are no regulations, I would note that it is highly regulated and governed by the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, OSHA, and Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act.

    I’m not saying that we don’t need some Illinois regulatory action, but a complete ban or excessive regulations will kill what could be a great industry for Illinois.


  21. - Downstate - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:36 pm:

    When drilling an oil or gas well, the water table is ALWAYS penetrated with pipe. Concrete is forced down the outer pipe to provide a sheathing for the pipe delivering fracking liquids, or retrieving the harvested mineral (oil/gas).

    That sheathing method has been used in wells for decades - all to preserve the water table. Whether a well is fracked, or not, doesn’t matter as much as whether the sheathing is in place. And sheathing is used on every well.


  22. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:50 pm:

    I’d like this to be said by every elected official everywhere:

    I am interested in regulations based in science.


  23. - Let's be sensible - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    According to Archer (a well manufacturer), globally, well integrity issues happen 38% of the time. In Pennsylvania with high-volume fracking, analysis of DEP numbers shows that 6.2% of all well casings fail initially, and 60% fail over 20 years.

    Also, please refer to this article concerning one of the ways water contamination has already happened in Illinois from oil/gas development, namely intersection with abandoned oil wells. http://articles.latimes.com/1997-01-22/business/fi-20986_1_oil-wells

    Leaky abandoned oil wells are a serious concern, among others, regarding high-volume fracking here.


  24. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    Sunshine, I’m not sure what I haven’t “weighed in on yet,” but if I were shilling for someone, you would know it, lol.

    ==Big stakes for our country with the quantity of natural gas available helping to reduce dependence on Middle East oil.–

    Careful there. There’s really no such thing as American oil, or gas, or coal. There is energy extracted from the United States by private interests — who may pay leases or taxes for doing so — but they can sell it anywhere they want.

    True, you can’t, for the most part, export oil extracted from the United States. But there’s nothing more useless than a barrel of oil until it’s refined.

    After that, it can be exported anywhere. Today, refineries based in the United States export more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to other countries than is consumed in the United States (remember when old Dick Cheney told us high gas prices were the results of “government regulations” against more refineries? That guy was a barrel of laughs).

    As a result, oil production in the United States can be at a 16-year high, gasoline consumption can be steadily declining, but you don’t see much relief at the pump.

    Besides, not all that much of imported oil for refining in the United States comes from the Middle East. Most comes from Canada, Mexico and our old friend Hugo in Caracas.

    About 50% of oil shipped through the Persian Gulf is bound for refining in China, Japan and South Korea, for which the U.S. Fifth Fleet graciously provides safe passage.


  25. - Let's be sensible - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:11 pm:

    This is extremely important to understand, in response to a previous comment posted by 1776: the 2005 Energy Bill specifically exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other federal regulations designed to protect American citizens’ access to clean air and water. It is entirely up to the states to regulate, and so far, no state has “gotten it right” regarding high-volume horizontal fracking. This is quite a gamble we are taking…


  26. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    While fracking is addressed by current regulations, some aspects of horizontal drilling and fracking are not adequately addressed.

    First, the smaller surface footprint plus the large area reached by horizontal drilling means that the quantity of water used and the quantity of contaminated water produced in one location are very different from standard drilling and could result in conflicts over water rights and where and how the waste water should be disposed of.

    Second, the combination of horizontal drilling and fracturing of the source rock layer creates a much greater opportunity for migration of gas and fracking fluids into other rock layers, including aquifers. While it is not likely that an adjacent rock layer will be an aquifer, it is quite possible that old, abandoned wells could be intersected and provide conduits to aquifers.

    It would be wise for our legislators and regulators to look to PA, ND, TX to see what is working and what is not. In addition, our state’s Geological and Water Surveys have the expertise to help with the interpretation of the science part in an unbiased way; they are our consultants. In the past, not much attention was paid to developing these laws and regulations and the oil & gas folks got pretty much what they wanted. There will be more interested parties showing up for this round.

    I think it can be regulated in a way that allows development and protects the environment. I don’t know that it will come out that way, but I think it is possible.


  27. - Sunshine - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:35 pm:

    Word makes a very poignant point.

    The Keystone pipeline is also a good example of oil being produced in North America but most likely will all be sold abroad with little or no direct benefit to us, other than maintaining the pipeline and refining the oil.

    Most of us are misled to believe that we are benefiting from all this production when in fact most is sold out of country. Capitalism at its finest!


  28. - Let's be sensible - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    Regarding regulations, I would only caution that there are numerous contamination pathways, which, in spite of tremendous regulation and enforcement, will always be present, and amplified with the scale of operations now being proposed. Spills, leaks, fires, abandoned oil wells we don’t even know about, vertical faults in the rock layers, earthquakes being produced and/or impacting well casings and vertical permeability of rock layers, serious air contamination which has made residents in other states sick, the list goes on and on. I just want people to understand the kinds of risks we are being asked to take. I have met victims from the states which were mentioned. It is easy to consider this from an academic point of view until you realize the tremendous violation of the lives of the residents in the path of high-volume fracking from PA, ND, and TX.


  29. - Going nuclear - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 2:59 pm:

    Good discussion. If there was a drilling location near my residence, I would want to know the chemical ingredients that will be used to frack and how the wastewater will be dealt with.


  30. - Fan of the Game - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 3:43 pm:

    I am a big supporter of fracking.

    I am bigger supporter of individual property rights.


  31. - Let's be sensible - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 4:11 pm:

    I totally wish that every property owner had the choice whether or not to allow fracking, AND that contamination effects did not cross property lines. Then there would be no issue. The problem is that, especially with high-volume fracking, the effects are community-wide, from water, air, and soil contamination, to excessive semi-truck traffic in small communities, to earthquakes, to water usage, to property devaluation, etc.

    In addition, many landowners in Southern Illinois have no choice but to allow fracking on their land.

    The crux of the problem is that property owners do not have choice when it comes to high-volume fracking being forced on their land, or on a neighbor’s land and affecting them adversely.


  32. - Small Town Home Owner - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 4:37 pm:

    I think that the issue of individual property rights is at the center of the this matter. Part of the issue is the right of every property owner to make the choice whether or not to allow fracking on their property.

    In addition there is the issue of the value of the mineral rights to allow the fracking to be done. Over the years the gas people, those who want to frack, have shown that they want to pay as little as possible for the mineral rightrs. Some property owners will take the first offer they receive from the gas people. Others determine the true value of what they are selling and bargin for a higher royalty payment. The difference between these royalty payments can be very large. As a property owner should I be forced to almost give my mineral rights away when I know that there value is higher? Should I be prohibited form accepting another offer, an offer that is better to me, from a different gas company?


  33. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 5:20 pm:

    == There’s a real, tangible overall good to extracting lots of natural gas in order to lower the nation’s dependency on other fuel sources==

    Yes, but we’re quickly passing the point where that’s the issue. We’re going all in on natural gas production so we can export it on the world market. I say let’s slow down and save some for later. We’re producing enough to have the desired effect.


  34. - Maxine on Politics - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 5:35 pm:

    Fracking is not right, it is just putting the cart before the horse(Eminent domain). Wrong, wrong, wrong!


  35. - JoeVerdeal - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 5:50 pm:

    One thing to bear in mind is that hundreds of landowners in Southeastern Illinois have already signed leases.

    The Carbondale group that is discussed in this article is not located anywhere near the area that may be drilled.

    The Harrisburg, Illinois city council passed a resolution last week in favor of development.


  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 5:58 pm:

    Google “fracking earthquakes” and then tell me that fracking is no different than coalmining with a straight face.

    It isn’t just about the quality of drinking water, folks.

    The link between fracking and the increase in seismic events has some pretty solid scientific research behind it.


  37. - wishbone - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 7:19 pm:

    “…makes high-sulfur Illinois coal even less viable.”

    The Clean Air Act largely dealt with the high-sulfur content problem. Acid rain is no longer a major environmental problem. The current and even more serious problem with coal (whether low sulfur or high sulfur) is its high carbon content which makes it the most significant contributor to climate change. We have to kill coal use to survive. It is that simple.


  38. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 7:43 pm:

    Lot of good stuff here. Glad to see so many thoughtful comments on the risk of this form of energy extraction.

    Just a few thoughts:

    1. In Illinois, the integrity of the water and soil are paramount. They are our bread and butter.

    We’ve already massively altered our environment once, draining the wetlands and plowing up the ancient prairies to feed the world with corn and beans. Don’t push it, or we’ll end up like the Dust Bowl Okies.

    2. Every energy source carries with it enormous costs and risks. The only sure ways to reduce the risks and costs are by using less energy. We’re smart people. Let’s reward those using less.

    3. The “Drill, Baby, Drill,” people can take their pudding cups and blankies and nap in the corner while the grownups deal with some serious business. It ain’t about you; it’s about all of us and those coming after us.

    When it comes to the true costs and risks of energy, the willful ignorance of certain segments of the masses are beyond understanding and the howling lies of some of the robber barons are beyond contempt.

    The truth is, we’re addicted to cheap energy, from whatever source, none of them particularly healthy, some a lot worse and more expensive, in all ways, than others.

    It’s a tough problem. But let’s get smart and leave it better than we found it.

    It ain’t politics or business when you’re dealing with water, air and soil. It’s life, by definition.


  39. - Southern City Slicker - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 7:54 pm:

    I recently learned our New Albany Shale has an anomalously high radioactivity level(due to uranium, phosphorus, and heavy metals). In fact, it has been studied to see if it has enough uranium to serve as a source of nuclear fuel.

    New York Times reported an analysis of more than 30,000 pages of federal, state and company records relating to more than 200 gas wells which shows that radioactive wastewater from the process is sometimes discharged into rivers that supply drinking water to millions of people in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

    At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states have discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams, the Times said. It said the waste water is sometimes hauled to sewage plants that are not designed to treat it.

    I’m clear that regulations will not be able to prevent naturally occurring radioactive materials from coming up with drilling waste water. But once it does, how will it be handled?


  40. - Ridgerider - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 10:09 pm:

    This subject is too complex to boil down into a simple equation. We have the benefit of looking at Wyoming, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, and North Dakota, to get some answers to the common questions.
    1. Does fracking bring in jobs? A: A few — once you subtract all the workers that are brought in, the average is 1 to 2 jobs per well. However, jobs are also lost, in industries adversely impacted by the industrialization of fracking areas, and no studies have yet quantified that loss.
    2. Does the state make any money? A: Sure — those workers are going to have payroll tax, even if they come from Oklahoma and Texas, and they are going to have to eat. That money does not necessarily go to pay for any damage caused to communities by fracking, however.
    3. Do local communities make money? A: not so simple. Crime will go up about 40%, so new personnel will be required. Locals will be victims of increased violent crime. Fire departments will have to spend about $3 million to train and buy new equipment, based on Pennsylvania figures. New 911 operators will be required. Traffic accidents will go up, partly because fracking drivers work up to 20-hr shifts (the highest short-term cause of death in fracking workers is traffic accidents). County roads will be degraded due to the massive increases in heavy truck traffic. Health issues will increase, especially asthma, other respiratory problems, neurological problems, allergies, and skin problems (silica sand dust has been above occupational safety levels at 100 percent of wells sampled). These are the kinds of costs nobody is computing. But they should be subtracted from the “profit” side of the ledger. And there will be some, to grocery stores, restaurants, and those with rooms to rent, mostly.
    4. Will there be environmental problems with the wells? A: almost certainly. Many of the causes have already been outlined. Also, some of the drilling companies are using drilling pipe with API threading, which is a problems because it has no shoulders to prevent leaking, and because there is no standard for taper; without a standard for taper, it is easy for the male and female ends to fail to lock, allowing the steel casing to fail at each and every joint when pressure is applied to the inside of the joined pipe.
    The concrete will also fail. Surveys have shown that about half the wells will fail within 20 to 30 years, and all will fail eventually. Since the well will continue to produce gas long after the producer has abandoned the site, at a reduced rate, this is a problem for all of us.
    5. Is it still worth the risk, since gas is a cleaner fuel than coal? A: If you consider the entire process, it is not a given proposition that natural gas IS cleaner. Howarth, Santoro and Ingraffea of Cornell University have considered the entire footprint of natural gas, and concluded that it is actually dirtier than coal, from a greenhouse gas point of view.
    If this tells you anything, it should tell you there are many dimensions to the issue that nobody is talking about yet. Which tells me, that we need to slow this whole thing down, and take some time to figure it out, rather than rushing in and trying to sort it out later.


  41. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 10:55 pm:

    ==The link between fracking and the increase in seismic events has some pretty solid scientific research behind it.==

    While there are many potential problems with fracking, this is not one of them and probably won’t be. The earthquakes reported in the news were caused by the injection of fracking waste into deep disposal well. The process of fracking does increase pore pressure for a very brief time, but has not been shown to trigger earthquakes.


  42. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:06 pm:

    ==Will there be environmental problems with the wells? A: almost certainly.==

    There is no source of energy that comes without environmental cost. We need to decide if the cost is worth the benefit. One of the big problems with fracking is that the benefits are realized in the short-term and focused on a relatively small number of people while the costs are much more spread out in both time and people impacted.

    The job of the state is to take those external costs and put them back on the folks receiving the benefits. Ensure proper well construction, require well closure bonds, enforce clean water regulations, etc. This may cause the gas developers to go elsewhere, but if it does, the benefit did not outweigh the cost.


  43. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:43 pm:

    –The Keystone pipeline is also a good example of oil being produced in North America but most likely will all be sold abroad with little or no direct benefit to us, other than maintaining the pipeline and refining the oil. –

    Nobody on the Gulf wants to refine that oil sand now, anyway, not with all the sweet crude being pumped out domestically.

    If the Canadian government is so hot to get that expensive, inferior stuff to Asia, there’s a lot shorter pipeline route to BC. They can build a refinery there. Like that would happen.

    The Gulf is already an environmental deadzone due to the refining, shipping and ag runoff from the Mississippi. Let Canada Oil assume some consequences for their dirty junk.


  44. - Ridgerider - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 11:54 pm:

    On the earthquake issue, actually, I believe some recent geological reports have indicated that fracking itself may be the culprit in at least a few of the earthquakes; however, since even industry admits that a waste disposal well is constructed the same as a fracking well, and since a fracking well can be fracked up to 18 times, subjecting the same region to thousands of pounds of pressure psi on each frack, it seems to be a distinction without a difference. Same mechanism. Deep well, fluids with slickening agents, lots of pressure. It also begs the question … in southern Illinois, with our numerous seismic zones, just where the heck do they plan on putting disposal wells? We are riddled with fault zones here, not all of which are even named and put on maps. Take a worst-case scenario: A single jolt could fracture a number of waste storage wells; leaking waste disposal wells could further lubricate fault zones. Add to that the karst layer, which provides additional migration channels for any escaped fluids, and it gets complicated very, very quickly.

    I agree that there needs to be a cost benefit analysis. I hope that any such analysis includes long-term and indirect costs and benefits, as well as obvious short-term ones.


  45. - Let's be sensible - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    I think it is important to say that SAFE has members from Saline County, Johnson County, Jefferson County, Williamson County, and other counties where high-volume fracking is slated to take place. Residents from all over Southern Illinois are cognizant of the risks of high-volume fracking. I live in one of the counties just listed.

    One of the trademarks of large-scale fracking is neighbor disagreeing with neighbor, because some people want to take the risk, but others do not. It is this breach of privacy which is fundamental to large-scale fracking. If my neighbor chooses it, or I am forced to choose it, then I have no choice, privacy, or freedom. Forcing others to take risks they do not agree to is one of the main reasons this extraction method is so controversial.

    I do not wish to risk my, or anyone’s, water, air, quality of life, health, food supply, etc. There have to be better choices…and there are…


  46. - Lay Person - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    United States Energy Independence-Yes
    Government Oversight for Safety of Environment-Yes
    I can remember my childhood growing up aroung Southern IL with the “OIL BOOM”. Some of the same concerns were expressed, but were unfounded.


  47. - Ridgerider - Tuesday, Dec 11, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    Thank you, Let’s be Sensible, for articulating so well one of the major problems with the fracking issue. Unlike the oil wells, you cannot keep the consequenses of fracking in your own backyard. Also, the oil boom did not require massive systems of pipelines, condenser stations, and evaporators, which turns a fracking zone into an extended industrial complex rather than a system of independent, unlinked wells.


  48. - How much water is there on Earth? - Wednesday, Dec 12, 12 @ 9:42 pm:

    Hot off the press …

    The EPA Is Letting Energy Companies Pollute Our Drinking Water: “Aquifer exemptions” let companies dump drilling and fracking waste into the water supply.
    By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 12/12/12

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/epa-water-aquifer-drilling-fracking-waste


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