Argument: Waste from natural gas extraction jeopardizes water resources

Issue Report: Natural gas

Issue Report: Natural gas vehicles


Peter Applebome. “Putting Water Ahead of Natural Gas”. New York Times. 9 Aug. 2008 It has slowly dawned on people, among them Mr. Gennaro, chairman of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, that there’s one very big local angle to the distant and still exotic notion of major energy companies descending on upstate New York to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.

A large chunk of that area is the 2,000-square-mile watershed where New York City gets its water, which comes unfiltered through the city’s reservoirs and aqueducts to nine million people, or roughly half the state’s residents. That raises the obvious questions: Should there be gas drilling in the watershed and, if so, can it be done without imperiling the federal waiver that has allowed New York to avoid building a filtration plant that would cost $10 billion to $12 billion?

Mr. Gennaro, a geologist who has studied petroleum engineering, said the answers are an emphatic “no” and “no.” And he said that the State Legislature and Gov. David A. Paterson, dazzled by the prospect of gas-industry riches, have been negligent in not ruling out development in the watershed. Sophisticated new wells using hydraulic fracturing use a million gallons of chemically treated water to break up subterranean shale and release the gas inside. Over the next two decades, there could be thousands of wells upstate.

“This is an activity that is completely and utterly inconsistent with a drinking water supply,” he said. “This cannot happen. This would destroy the New York City watershed, and for what? For short-term gains on natural gas? We’re not saying no exploration for natural gas anywhere in New York State. We’re saying the part of New York State that is the New York City reservoir system should be off limits to this kind of activity.”

“Natural gas drillers facing Ocean-size problem – millions of gallons of wastewater”. Times Tribune. 25 Aug. 2005 – Tim Budney scoffed at the fliers spread across the table in front of him.

The pieces of paper, arrayed for an audience of natural gas drillers at a recent Harrisburg meeting, boasted of one wastewater treatment facility’s daily capacity to treat hundreds of thousands of gallons of the dirty water produced during gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale.

Mr. Budney was unimpressed.

He had recently pumped and recovered more than 4 million gallons of water to develop just two Western Pennsylvania gas wells for Pittsburgh-based CNX Gas Corp.

The problem of how to handle millions of gallons of wastewater is one of the biggest challenges emerging in the rush to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.