Originally posted March 23, 2011 at phfieldnotes.blogspot.com.
Concerns over the negative effects to air, water, wildlife habitat, and land use are shaping one side of the public debate about U.S. domestic natural gas exploration and production – and Pennsylvania is at the cross roads of this subject. The Marcellus region is one of the country’s fastest-growing onshore gas production provinces.
While the number of wells is swelling, profits are falling; amid it all, the environment is being compromised. Regulations need to catch up with the gold rush to prevent further degradation to our precious land and water resources. There are a number of low-impact approaches to exploration and production to prevent natural resource damages including:
Use of Geographic Information System
Utilize(GIS) spatial mapping tools to minimize impacts.
Apply technologies that reduce waste
High volume fracking generates high volumes of wastewater that requires treatment when brought to the land surface. In-field and centralized processing plants enable re-use of gas field fluids.
Manage water resources sustainably
High volume fracking can require 3 to 5 million gallons of water per well. To reduce potential impacts of water diversion, plan for sources that lessen competition.
Limit disturbance effects
Reduce pad footprint size, deploy temporary drilling platforms, use small diameter drilling techniques, consider piping rather than trucking water to/from sites, minimize steep slopes and stream crossings for roads, deploy open-bottom culverts.
Implement sound restoration design
Minimize initial cut/ fill grading, restore land contours, remove pit liners and solid residue, employ “disappearing” road methods, re-meadow and re-forest with native plants, and apply performance standards for restoration outcome.
James Shallenberger, P.G.